Windows 95 vs Console Gaming ?

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  • liohuffman 9 Feb 2013 12:14:36 25 posts
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    Hi guys,

    I was just wondering - in your opinion, why did Windows 95 and DirectX not completely destroy console gaming? (in the way that many are predicting smartphones and tablets will do today)


    I've been reading various books on Win95/DirectX and apparently there was a genuine belief at the time that with almost everybody owning a PC by 1999 (now made gaming-ready thanks to DirectX/3D accelerator cards) that they could completely replace dedicated games consoles (which, unlike PCs, only served a single purpose - games).


    Obviously consoles eventually caught up and began offering more (e.g. the PS2 could play DVDs) but Windows had this advantage first. Did people just prefer to play games on a TV instead of a monitor? Or is there more to it?


    It's even more peculiar when you consider that Microsoft had a virtual monopoly in the PC OS market (with Windows) whereas their foray into the console market (Xbox) meant they had to share market share with other companies (Sony / Sega / Nintendo).



    Your thoughts would be welcome, as I'm really curious on this subject !
  • Dirtbox 9 Feb 2013 12:17:03 77,746 posts
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    Because it wasn't cheap, or easy to set up.

    Windows PCs still destroy consoles when it comes to gaming, but the stigma remains despite no longer being anywhere near as true as it was.

    Edited by Dirtbox at 15:29:24 09-02-2013

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  • liohuffman 9 Feb 2013 12:20:26 25 posts
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    @Dirtbox True, but surely a 3D accelerator card would still be cheaper than a new games console?

    Obviously the whole PC would cost more, but I'm assuming most people already owned the core unit

    (although I'm ignoring the cost of upgrading the CPU / memory etc)


    Was part of the problem that Microsoft never flexed their muscles in securing "exclusives" for the PC? (given that, unlike today's Win8 Metro store, they didn't get any profit from game sales?)
  • MrTomFTW Moderator 9 Feb 2013 12:21:41 37,886 posts
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    Dirtbox wrote:
    Because it wasn't cheap, or easy to set up.
    Pretty much this. Windows 95 was the time of fiddly hardware drivers and 3D cards were just catching on, and still amazingly expensive.

    Or at least that's how I remember it.

    Follow me on Twitter: @MrTom
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  • disusedgenius 9 Feb 2013 12:24:57 5,284 posts
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    Yeah, it's a pretty cut and dry answer. Consoles sat under the telly and were ultra simple to use. PCs were a family-use affair and were much more fiddly than they are now. And expensive.
  • Dirtbox 9 Feb 2013 12:26:00 77,746 posts
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    A 3D card back then cost about the same as a games console.

    And MS doesn't/didn't get a cut of any games released on Windows unless they owned the studio that made it, unlike consoles which license all the releases. Exclusives were not a major concern at that time in the games industry.

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  • StarchildHypocrethes 9 Feb 2013 12:30:21 25,653 posts
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    liohuffman wrote:
    I've been reading various books on Win95/DirectX
    Exciting!
  • superdelphinus 9 Feb 2013 12:37:37 8,051 posts
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    One off purchase for a whole generation of games with no fiddling about to get the games working.
  • Fake_Blood 9 Feb 2013 12:38:24 4,171 posts
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    Even when win95 was out games ran much faster under DOS, even the first 3D accelerated games.
    I'm thinking of the 3Dfx cards anyway, those used openGL iirc.

    Edited by Fake_Blood at 12:39:38 09-02-2013
  • liohuffman 9 Feb 2013 12:38:33 25 posts
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    StarchildHypocrethes wrote:
    Exciting!
    It's more interesting than it sounds (trust me!)

    "Renegades of the Empire" is an interesting take on the machinations inside Microsoft to supplant OpenGL / games consoles / Apple etc - and the resistance they faced internally:-

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0609604163/


    "Opening the Xbox" is another interesting book:-

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0761537082/

    Edited by liohuffman at 12:42:08 09-02-2013
  • liohuffman 9 Feb 2013 12:40:47 25 posts
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    Fake_Blood wrote:I'm thinking of the 3Dfx cards anyway, those used openGL iirc.
    I think 3DFX used Glide (a proprietary version of OpenGL) but I'm not sure
  • Fake_Blood 9 Feb 2013 12:42:02 4,171 posts
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    I miss that 3Dfx logo boot screen.
  • liohuffman 9 Feb 2013 12:46:07 25 posts
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    Dirtbox wrote:
    A 3D card back then cost about the same as a games console.

    And MS doesn't/didn't get a cut of any games released on Windows unless they owned the studio that made it, unlike consoles which license all the releases. Exclusives were not a major concern at that time in the games industry.
    That's the point I'm making - the cost was (somewhat) comparable, although obviously the upgrades were more frequent.


    And bearing in mind that Microsoft have lost nearly $3 billion to date on the Xbox project (source: http://www.neowin.net/news/report-microsofts-xbox-division-has-lost-nearly-3-billion-in-10-years) I'm just wondering if it would've been better if they did something radical by securing exclusives / profit share on PC titles instead?


    Personally I never had any objection to playing games on the PC - I loved (and still love) playing old console emulators on my laptop (legally, of course!) but what bothered me at the time was that the 'style' of games tended to be MMORPG / FPS games (rather than console titles like Tekken, Mario or Zelda). But maybe that's just me.

    Edited by liohuffman at 12:46:48 09-02-2013
  • Dirtbox 9 Feb 2013 12:46:09 77,746 posts
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    It used to mystify me why MS didn't play their strengths with gaming and Windows, but the fact is that they never stood to gain much from it. All they have is the OS while the hardware manufacturers sell far more expensive parts many times over to the same people during the lifetime of a single iteration of Windows. MS had it's share of game studios but instead used them to stick their toe into the potentially far more lucrative console industry. They already had the PC market sewn up, so there was nothing left for them to achieve there.

    It's openness, power and ease to develop for has ensured that Windows PCs remain one of the top platforms for gaming, but it's not a profitable one for MS.

    Edited by Dirtbox at 12:48:19 09-02-2013

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  • Whizzo 9 Feb 2013 12:47:42 43,094 posts
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    Good times.


    3Dfx certainly used Glide, patches to turn software rendering games to use the hardware and Glide native games made such a huge difference that nothing since has impressed me as much.

    Edited by Whizzo at 12:48:16 09-02-2013

    This space left intentionally blank.

  • liohuffman 9 Feb 2013 12:50:59 25 posts
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    Dirtbox wrote:
    It used to mystify me why MS didn't play their strengths with gaming and Windows, but the fact is that they never stood to gain much from it. All they have is the OS while the hardware manufacturers sell far more expensive parts many times over to the same people during the lifetime of a single iteration of Windows. MS had it's share of game studios but instead used them to stick their toe into the potentially far more lucrative console industry. They already had the PC market sewn up, so there was nothping left for them to achieve there.
    See my post above.


    I completely agree with everything you've said, but I think Microsoft were short-sighted in not spotting an opportunity to further penetrate the PC gaming market - actually securing exclusives for the platform (taking them away from games consoles), and then engaging in a "profit share" arrangement with the studios who made them.


    It would've been a small price to pay for Microsoft (some money to lure them over), but at a huge potential benefit.


    And it wouldn't have been a tough sell either - they could tout the benefits of working towards a fixed DirectX platform, instead of tailoring for each new console architecture. Also, Windows had a 95% market share (unlike most games consoles, which only had 70% at best)


    The only problem was piracy, I guess.


    It just seems that when it came to PCs, Microsoft pretty much stayed out of it and left the studios to themselves (rather than taking the Sony approach of actively courting them)

    Edited by liohuffman at 12:55:20 09-02-2013
  • Dirtbox 9 Feb 2013 12:55:15 77,746 posts
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    Not shortsighted, no. They're an incredibly forward thinking company and they saw back then that they've got more to lose than gain from pushing Windows as a gaming platform. 300 billion if they're seen to move away from the corporate sector for example. And they gain nothing at all from it.

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  • liohuffman 9 Feb 2013 13:02:59 25 posts
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    Dirtbox wrote:
    Not shortsighted, no. They're an incredibly forward thinking company and they saw back then that they've got more to lose than gain from pushing Windows as a gaming platform. 300 billion if they're seen to move away from the corporate sector for example. And they gain nothing at all from it.
    I guess you're right. Now I think about it, even if they'd secured exclusives for the platform with certain studios (and turned Windows into the lead gaming platform) there would've been nothing stopping other studios from later publishing games without having to pay Microsoft a dime.


    I guess the key was turning Windows into a closed platform, which is the approach they took with both the Xbox and now Windows 8.



    Interesting discussion.
  • Dirtbox 9 Feb 2013 13:10:27 77,746 posts
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    MS missed a huge trick with games on Windows and unwittingly created a niche that Valve leapt on and prospered with, but it wouldn't have happened were Windows an essentially fatherless gaming platform for such a long time. It might be easy to look ahead from a business standpoint, but it's impossible to factor in the evolving technology that makes new business models possible. Structured and efficient digital content delivery was something they couldn't have forecast.

    Edited by Dirtbox at 13:12:54 09-02-2013

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  • liohuffman 9 Feb 2013 13:20:56 25 posts
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    Dirtbox wrote:
    MS missed a huge trick with games on Windows and unwittingly created a niche that Valve leapt on and prospered with, but it wouldn't have happened were Windows an essentially fatherless gaming platform for such a long time. It might be easy to look ahead from a business standpoint, but it's impossible to factor in the evolving technology that makes new business models possible. Structured and efficient digital content delivery was something they couldn't have forecast.
    Exactly. DRM wasn't then what it is now (and neither were broadband speeds!), so I don't blame MS for not immediately creating a download store at the time.

    I mean, even Apple had a tough task convincing music studios that iTunes wouldn't lead to piracy.


    Maybe Microsoft neglected PC gaming in the mid-2000s because it would've competed with their other product? (the Xbox)


    Which was kind of my whole point - if they'd focused more on Windows to begin with (in the 90s), the Xbox wouldn't have even been necessary and they could've tried to later 'close' Windows and produce dedicated "Steam boxes" to replace the old games consoles.


    (according to "Opening the Xbox", some people within Microsoft were actually pushing for something similar to this solution instead of creating a dedicated games console)


    But I guess it's all easier said than done

    Edited by liohuffman at 13:25:46 09-02-2013
  • Dirtbox 9 Feb 2013 13:24:58 77,746 posts
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    They're clawing it back with Windows Marketplace, but it's not as yet a serious contender. We'll have to wait another 10 years before we see where that's ultimately headed and whether or not Windows retains it's dominance through all the changes they make to create the walled garden that allows them to be where Steam and itunes is now.

    Edited by Dirtbox at 13:25:07 09-02-2013

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  • Fake_Blood 9 Feb 2013 13:32:50 4,171 posts
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    Well they have xbl for that.
  • Bremenacht 9 Feb 2013 13:33:10 17,852 posts
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    It wasn't obvious that there was a Steam-sized opportunity there at the time, to be fair to Microsoft. If Valve didn't have a game with weight of expectation that HL2 had, a lot of gamers wouldn't have bothered with Steam. I remember quite a bit of whining from the time from people who didn't want to be 'locked in' to something new and unknown, but no-one wanted to miss out on HL2.

    I do wonder if HL3, if it arrives within the next couple of years, will be SteamOS-only release to begin with, moving to Steam-on-Windows later, and console much later. Then again, do enough people give a monkeys' about HL3 now.
  • themanfromdelmonte 9 Feb 2013 13:38:39 573 posts
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    While the mid nineties wasn't pre-internet, it was certainly before Joe Public had the internet on its collective RADAR. It's certainly a mistake to think that PCs had already made mass penetration into homes by this time. The mid nineties would have been a good time to take on consoles, the SNES and Megadrive were ageing. Until the launch of Playstation, all there was were lots of lacklustre, pretenders to the crown. But as has been said, PC gaming was a fiddly business at the time and only for hobbyists.
  • Dirtbox 9 Feb 2013 17:15:15 77,746 posts
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    Anyone remember that PC that had a Megadrive built into it?

    Here it is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amstrad_Mega_PC

    "Kill meee..."

    Edited by Dirtbox at 17:21:53 09-02-2013

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  • Maturin 9 Feb 2013 17:23:31 2,961 posts
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    Part of the problem is a practical one, then and now.

    I recently built a very good gaming PC. But I use it for work too. To it's on my desk in my upstairs study. To make it my big screen gaming machine I'd have to move it downstairs near the TV.

    And in the 90s it was the same for many. Computers were in the house but not necessarily in a good spot for family gaming. And think of the TVs we had too and connection issues using them with computers.

    I'm looking forward to Nvidia's Project Shield though, and the possibilities of streaming PC games to my TV.
  • Dirtbox 9 Feb 2013 17:26:07 77,746 posts
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    It surprises me that no one has put serious work into a proper streaming solution to get an office pc into the living room. Missed potential galore there.

    Edited by Dirtbox at 17:27:44 09-02-2013

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  • Maturin 9 Feb 2013 17:44:33 2,961 posts
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    Hopefully Nvidia's Shield will do this well. Only downside is 720p and wired to TV. But it's a start.
  • Dirtbox 9 Feb 2013 17:52:01 77,746 posts
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    Sadly it's not even close to doing what I'm getting at.

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  • Deleted user 9 February 2013 17:52:44
    If you want a return to those good old days of 3DFX logos and the like, GOG are now supporting Glide in their releases. Major blast from the past loading up the original Tomb Raider and getting the 3dFX splash screen.
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