Opinion: The Barrier of Entry

By Steve Gibson, Jun 30, 2007 5:00pm PDT As we all seem to be reluctantly accepting the world of console games around these parts some interesting numbers have come to light. In a recent press release The Diffusion Group notes that although 80% of homes that have a console with movie playback capability only 13% have ever seemed to actually use it and only 30% of owners even realize that they have that ability. It is a much lower usage rate than what one may have expected and certainly a much lower level of awareness than game console manufacturers would want.

The numbers make me wonder about what Microsoft and Sony are doing, as games and consoles continue to get more complex and raise the barriers of understanding and entry. I would be interested to see just how many people outside of core gamers actually realize a PlayStation 3 is a capable Blu-ray player--or even know what Blu-ray is. Certainly much of this problem could be resolved with marketing and packaging, but perhaps these numbers are indicative of a bit more?

Nintendo seemed to have recognize that trend when it comes to the games themselves as well. The level of complexity in control schemes in popular titles like Tony Hawk, for example, sure has gone up several degrees over the past few years. I'm sure many of you guys know people firsthand who are thankful to see simplistic controls to finally return to games with systems like the Wii and DS. The Wii represents the first time I saw my parents play a video game since Super Mario Bros. That angle might be on the right track.

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  • Most consumers are dumb. I'm sure the same could be said about something like an ipod and consumers not knowing it can do more than play music or even a more common device like a cellphone but that doesn't stop them from buying the latests and greatest. It all comes down to who's going to drop the money and buy those devices at launch and they are the ones who are going to be interested in all the extra features and the ones who are going to spread the word. It's not going to be mainstream over night, not everyone knew what a dvd was a few years back either. Do those numbers really make you wonder what MS and Sony are doing?