Not Just Your Standard Video Game

Standards. We all have them. We all live by them. In fact, I think we all need standards to simply function in life (some more than others). But I'm not just talking life rules, norms and morays, there's so much more to standardization than you probably know.

The fabled "browser wars" from the late 90s were based solely on internet standards. Netscape would create a proprietary HTML tag and then Internet Explorer would create a different one. Soon, web designers/coders were building two separate sites, one that worked in IE and one that worked in Netscape (anyone remember the "site best viewed in Internet Explorer" messages?). It wasn't until the W3C stepped in and said “enough,” that the browsers started to offer other bells and whistles instead of creating it's own code.

A similar thing occurred in the Inline Skating world. There were about six different major skate manufacturers and all six had different kinds of skates. So chances were if you bought a pair of grind plates for your K2s, they weren't going to fit someone else's Solomons. That's not good. In the past several years, there's been a standardization of skate parts, so now virtually any skate part will fit any skate. Standardization.

When you order cable, in some cities you can get it from different providers – it's the same channels, just a different carrier. When you buy toothpaste, it can go on any toothbrush. I don't have to order specific tires for my Jetta, I have many I can choose from. Gorton's fish sticks are compatible with any oven in the world. Tide will work in my washing machine just like Biz will.

Do you see where I'm getting at? Standards are a good thing. Standards are needed.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine asked how I liked the new NCAA Football 2006... my response was that I can't play it because it wasn't made for the GameCube (yes, I was upset by this). Then, just a few days ago, I was talking to my friend Tug about the next generation game consoles (Xbox 360, PS3 and Nintendo Revolution) and it struck me that there's no standardization in video games.


If I want to play a Mario- or Zelda-based game, I have to buy a Nintendo console. If I want to play Halo, I have to buy an Xbox. For a while, if I wanted to play Grand Theft Auto, I had to have a PlayStation. Why?

You could say it's a moot point now since most games are developed for all three platforms. But sometimes (NCAA Football 2006, Zelda, Mario, Halo, et al) that's not the case – either sales, or console limitations, determine whether a game will be re-written for the other engine(s). And sometimes console manufacturers want to be exclusive. So most people who have enough money to do it, buy two of the three (or all three) systems, others stick with one and cross their fingers.

Why? This doesn't make sense.

Well, what does each console do that the others don't? They all have memory slots. They all have controllers with a lot of buttons. Some play DVDs. Some have network adapters built in, others have the capability. Some have internal hard drives. That's not enough. What's the big difference? The last time I checked, the PS2 version of Medal of Honor was the exact same game as the one for GameCube – with different controller settings. Same game, people. So EA Games spent millions of dollars to make that game work on all three consoles... was it worth it?


Wouldn't it make sense for there to be ONE game that worked on three different consoles? And then the consoles, and their features, were different than the others? You want a Home Media Center, buy and Xbox. Want easy online play, by a PlayStation. Don't want bells and whistles, buy a Nintendo.

Is this a pipedream? Probably so. But I think it's needed.

+ original post date: August 10, 2005 07:33 PM
+ categories: WTF


(comments rss feed)

Amen. I bought GameCube because I love Mario games. Then, they didn't make any. It took, like, three years for the GC version of Mario Golf -- a game I played for hours on my old N64 -- to come out. And by then, I simply didn't care. Plus, I love that Lego Star Wars game and Lucas is notorious for making console-specific games. And with this one, they just didn't make a version for GC. Stupid. And, don't even get me going on their small discs. Proprietary discs? Come on.

+ author: Tug McTighe
+ posted: August 11, 2005 09:45 AM

well, this is a big issue Seth has brought up. I think as long as Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo see the dollars out there nothing will standardize. The gaming industry is billions of dollars huge and those three are getting all of the pie. Once a year I go through the "i need to get a gamecube to play zelda, mario, etc.. " I am perfectly fine right now with my xbox and halo 2. I do think Xbox is leading the way in online gaming. Example: i just was upstairs and decided to play a quick rumbel pit game on Halo 2. In a total of about 10 minutes I got my fix. Wonderful. I do think NCAA 2006 should be multiplatorm though. I think gamecube has gotten a bad reputation of being a kids platform in the past.

+ author: Jason Miller
+ posted: August 11, 2005 10:39 AM

Come on, boys, you're being silly. The GAME BOY is where it's at! You can play all the games it's ever come out with on one device. Problem solved. ;)

+ author: wendy
+ posted: August 11, 2005 11:01 AM

Meelah's point is right... this will never get solved because Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo are making money. It'll probably have to come from the game developers themselves. If EA is dropping titles for certain consoles, then maybe the writing is kinda on the wall.

+ author: Seth
+ posted: August 12, 2005 06:22 PM

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