In the past, consoles have pretty much worked as "insert cart/CD/whatever, press the little red button
, and have fun." They have mere kilobytes of RAM
, and horribly underpowered RISC
processors, yet developers figure out the tricks, and manage to make games that seem totally beyond the capabilities of that system.
The X-box, Microsoft's "new deal" in consoles (I'll refrain from the anti-MS sentiment for the time being) seems to be trying to oust this time-tested model. The X-box has a Pentium III processor (kind of like a desktop PC). It also runs Windows 2000 (kind of like a desktop PC). It has a 9 gigabyte hard drive (kind of like a desktop PC) and it has internet capabilities, plus an already-installed web browser and other important utilities (kind of like a desktop PC).
Even worse, the X-box, being that it has a Pentium III and will generate enough heat to fry an egg on, will need a cooling fan. Horrors! As if my PlayStation doesn't make enough noise with the CD-ROM drive to begin with, now I need to listen to the whir of a hard drive AND a fan? Argh!
Everyone else, like Sega, Sony, and Nintendo, seems to be progressing slowly towards concepts that have existed in the PC gaming world for a long time (such as online gaming, for one). However Microsoft basically is modifying a garden variety desktop PC, putting in a smaller case, and calling it a console. Once it is released, they will persue their usual path of monopolizing the already established powers in the field to support their endeavor, as a means of eventually controlling it exclusively themselves.
My hope is that the X-box gets laughed off like the Sega CD, Atari Jaguar, and 3DO. If it even attains the popularity of say, the Playstation, or the Nintendo 64, then we might as well start digging the grave now.
As a person who spent countless hours of his youth playing console games, I find this quite upsetting.