Opinion: The Barrier of Entry

by Steve Gibson, Jun 30, 2007 5:00pm PDT
Related Topics – Sony, Games: Console

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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  • When designing entertainment products (consoles, games), you walk a fine line between dictating an intended experience and broadening the experience to capture an audience.

    With the success of the PS2's DVD-movie watching capability, many add on features followed in successive console releases.

    Nintendo's success with specific Wii and DS titles demonstrates that a simple, vertical experience that drives a single type of play home is the antithesis of the creeping features seen in competing consoles.

    I've often wondered how well received the sophisticated set of options presented by the 360's dashboard is in a mass market sense. Sure, people ilke us love it, but we're the sort of people who have memorized their logins on multiple forums on the Internet and we return to post.