Back in the 80’s (the 1980’s not the 1880’s) a trend began where technology was diffused not based on what was best, but by who had the biggest market share.
To my memory it first started with the VCR formats. On the one side you had Betamax (from Sony) and on the other VHS (from JVC). Both were developed by massive Japanese companies, but technically Betamax was the superior format. We had a Betamax VCR and my older brothers enlightened my young mind to not only piracy, but also The Evil Dead. It was a shockingly awful copy, but none the less it did have an impact on how I viewed the world, and particularly trees, for quite a while later.
You all remember Betamax right? Okay, let me rephrase that: all of you who are over 30 remember Betamax right? The rest of you are probably going Beta…who? Well here’s Jimmy Wales’ link for some background. In a nutshell what happened was that Sony were so confident that they had the superior product they were sure it would sell itself. JVC on the other hand embarked on an aggressive marketing campaign.
The result: prior to the DVD generation pretty much everyone had a VHS VCR and Betamax was mostly forgotten.
My second eye opener for better format/technology being trumped by better market share was with my first computer – the Amstrad CPC464 (and I know that good buddy Hypermole had one too). At the time the competition was the Commodore64 and the ZXSpectrum, however, the Amstrad and Commodore were both superior to the ZXSpectrum in graphics and general capability (a bit like PS3 and Xbox compared to the Wii today), but the ZXSpectrum had a much larger market share and as such many game developers coded for the Speccy and then ported them to the other formats.
So for many games played on full colour machines were made to suffer the four colour blocky graphics of the ZXSpectrum. Even then, in my young mind, I felt that I was being short changed. I had this machine with all these capabilities yet I was being denied the opportunity to fully experience them because games were being coded for a lesser machine. I could never understand why they weren’t coded for the better hardware and then ‘dumbed down’ for the other formats rather than starting with the ‘dumbed down’ version and….. leaving it at that!
Then we had HD-DVD versus BluRay. Thankfully, this time around the better tech won the day!
Now we’re in 2010 and it’s the same shit…. different decade. But this time it’s a more closely matched thing. I’m not getting in to a format war here. I have both Xbox360 and PS3 (and a Wii) and the PS3 is technically the most capable machine. Yet we’re still seeing the ‘start dumb and hope no-one notices’ approach to product releases.
Black Ops…. I was talking to one of the guys I game with and he said that it was clearly coded for the Xbox and ported to PS3, the Xbox experience being much better as well. And it seems that he’s not the only person to have noticed this as there is now a petition doing the rounds relating to the sub-standard service that the PS3 community is receiving from Black Ops and Treyarch compared to Xbox360 users:
I don’t have Black Ops, and after seeing this news I think I’ll be definitely be giving it a miss. I didn’t mind so much back in the 80’s when people for the most part didn’t know what they were doing, but I don’t accept this now. It’ll be interesting to see what the excuses are this time….. if Treyarch responds at all.
Peas and loaves.
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