Starting early next year, PS3 owners with Internet access in Japan will reportedly be able to download a host of HD offerings directly onto their PS3 hard drives (see our previous coverage). So now that both Sony and Microsoft are trying to provide video services to […]

Playstation 3
Starting early next year, PS3 owners with Internet access in Japan will reportedly be able to download a host of HD offerings directly onto their PS3 hard drives (see our previous coverage). So now that both Sony and Microsoft are trying to provide video services to device owners, it begs the question: Does video have a place in the world of video games?

It depends.

Video game consoles sell best when the hardware company’s main focus is video games. A quick snapshot of the industry bears this out: Sony (SNE) has been lagging due to its belief that impressive hardware specs and Blu-ray can carry the day; a focus on innovative gameplay, meanwhile, has put Nintendo out in front.

But as a source of additional revenue, getting into the video downloading business may not be a bad idea. As one report pointed out, Microsoft expects to make $726 million from its Xbox Live Video Marketplace by 2011.

That alone may have been enough to bring Sony — a company losing money on each sale of the PS3 — into the market video download market. But why isn’t Sony focusing on bringing gamers to its console? In an industry where hardware manufacturers usually sell consoles at a loss and rely on fees from software developers to turn a profit, focusing on the strength of its video game offerings should come first. After all, no one buys a video game console because it will let them download movies — they have Apple TVs for that.

Instead, the average consumer will buy a PS3 because it offers a library of games that will justify the purchase. Only at that point — when consumers own the PS3 and are using it on a regular basis — will Sony incur the benefits of offering VOD service. But until then, the company must focus on attracting developers and gamers because if nothing else, Sony should have found out by now that success in the video game industry has nothing to do with video and everything to do with gaming.

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who covers everything from Google to HDTVs. He currently writes for over 15 popular technology publications, including CNET’s Digital Home, InformationWeek and Future Publishing in the UK.

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  1. If WII would support flash 9 we would be able to watch some videos on the screen from the net

  2. Hmm The Wii offers internet access for $5 With thier Wii channel and its opera Browser .

    Nintendo could offer a Streaming video Channel for $5 on the Wii or they could get a proportion of the Advertising revenue from such a system .

    I noticed recently on Joost they are adding a whole slew of Gaming related channels .And Joost is based on Mozilla technologies so it can be ported easily enoughto other platforms .If Opera can develop a browser for the Wii Im sure Joost could develop for the Wii and leverage the Massive Install Base of The Wii that are left on 24/7 to prop up thier Peer Assisted Content Distribution Network .

    Also all the Major Consoles offer a browser that supports Java and Flash (even if its Flash 7 ) so you can already watch Youtube why not monetise that same audience with Ad Revenue .

  3. “the average consumer will buy a PS3 because it offers a library of games that will justify the purchase”

    The people I know who purchased a PS3, originally bought it as the cheapest way to get a Blu-ray player. Gaming was secondary. Then again these folks are a bit older – perhaps the younger PS3 buyers are more gamers. And this will shift as stand-alone Blu-ray players drop in price.

    As an aside, I did not buy an Xbox 360 until the Video Marketplace was introduced last year. But I’m probably not typical and again, probably older than most “gamers”

  4. Jon the issue with Fash for Devices is Abode only released the SDK with Flash 7 support .Opera and Nintendo would also like Flash 9 support but they have to wait on Abode to relese a SDK that supports Flash 9 .

  5. Stanley Miller Sunday, December 9, 2007

    Video downloads are a natural for the game consoles. Particularly the Wii. Streaming won’t work because of bandwidth restrictions.

    I expect CDN’s to work with original content providers to license and distribute timeshifted video on demand. The over-the-air broadcasts will be captured locally by the regional CDN’s. Wii VOD subscribers will then find their “favorites list” programs downloaded to their local consoles automatically and ready to view less than 24 hours later.

    This scenario fits with the current timeshifted viewing patterns and works within existing bandwidth limits.

    FWIW, my Wii plays YouTube vidoes just fine. But, other services don’t work.

  6. I don’t think the problem with the Wii is that they won’t support flash 9 anymore. What they announced a couple weeks ago is that they no longer want to let you play mp3’s but you can bring in anything off of you SD card including .flv flash files.

    If you already have a Wii that supports mp3’s and you want to keep it that way then do not click the update button when that pesky reminder pops up. Once you update you will no longer be able to play the mp3 files. I even heard some people say that their previous mp3 files had been erased by installing the update.

    I linked to this story at http://sarahmeyers.wordpress.com

  7. Brian Andrews Sunday, December 9, 2007

    The console makers do need to focus on gaming first in order to grow market share of their respective platforms. But, once that is done they should definitely begin looking to add other features such as video downloads and/or streaming.

    These boxes are very powerful computers, therefore they become the default media center PC in the home without all the configuration and support headaches of attaching a typical PC to your family room TV.

    Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo have a huge head start on Apple TV, sling and even the cable companies. They can own a large portion of the future of “newteevee” consumption if they get their act together in time.

    At HungyFlix, we really see the last 100 feet as the next big frontier. Independent producers can create content with an $800 Canon HDV, then edit on a $1200 iMac with iMovie and then upload to any number of sites. The real battle is getting found and seen. Getting featured on Xbox 360 Marketplace could be huge for an indie short film.

  8. I would LOVE to have this. But since we don’t even have it for the 360 in Sweden I guess this would take some time. My preferences aside, this makes 100 % sense. It’s not about focusing, it’s about offering a great experience overall.

  9. Sarah I think the MP3 issue is over Licencing and Nintendo don’t want to pay the various licensing fees when it comes to proprietary codecs like MP3 so they can keep costs down …which would be passed on to the consumer

    .The reason the Wii doesn’t have DVD playback is simple …Nintendo don’t want the price of the Wii to go up they want to to come down to below $200 and once they get their production hassles sorted out and the costs come down due to economies of scale Expect to see the Wii come under the $200 mark and maybe then they Wii come out with a more expensive box that has all the Ad ons like DVD and MP3 support .Modded Wiiś are capable of DVD playback .

  10. Playstation 3, Now with DivX support « NewTeeVee Tuesday, December 18, 2007

    [...] many gaming systems that will support support playback of DivX video. Our resident hardware guru, Don Reisinger is not entirely sold on the idea of video playback via gaming [...]

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