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back to article Qualcomm startup punts '4th game console' for developing nations

A California-based startup backed by Qualcomm is launching a 3G-enabled home game console for emerging markets using hardware normally intended for high-end smartphones. Zeebo unveiled what it describes as the industry's "fourth console platform" today at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. The company hopes to tap …

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Pirate

Another colossal marketing mistake...

Why is it that these people think that the way to exploit under-developed markets is to try to sell them awful low-spec technology? Piracy is rife, says the article, for games running on the mainstream consoles. Therefore, it would seem that demand for high quality, current-gen technology running the latest games is high. So why attempt to sell into that market an abysmally specified piece of hardware with a free download of, wait for it, Quake! C'mon guys - the Chinese are skint, not backward. I expect to see modified versions of this console running pirated xbox360 kernels and games a couple of months after release :)

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Anonymous Coward

Fail

In a so-called third-world country you are either rich enough that you can easily afford a Wii even if it's 1000 bucks, or so poor that even 200 is way beyond you.

Oh, and how do they want to sell a console that constantly wants to phone home if people have no broadband flatrates, or even reliable Internet? What about power outages?

If I was stuck in, say, Ethiopia, and I had 200 bucks to spend on a game console, I'd buy a PS2. Thousands of games out, all available for a buck (most even legally), doesn't need Internet (it's to slow for online gaming around my place anyway). Why spend money on something that is a brick when your online connection is down for a week?

Last thought: people in Europe, US, Japan don't pirate? The reason you sell more in these countries is because your demographic has more disposable income, not because they care about the law more.

Any time someone says "this has been designed for poor countries" ignore them unless:

a) it's useful in rich countries too

b) it's designed *by* people in a poor country *for* people in a poor country.

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Pirate

the low hardware spec will be emulated

Console game piracy usually matures like this:

1. Code injection, like through a logic analyzer or an exploit. (eg: On the Xbox, Huang did it in hardware, and the the dashboard font overflow discovered soon after.)

2. Toolchain availability. (eg: The legitimate ps2dev for Playstation, and the leaked XDK for Xbox.)

3. Emulator availability, which can be difficult for weird things like the Emotion engine.

The kit is commodity, so the second and third part are already available. Most PC computers and existing consoles will be able to run the games.

My bet is that the initial exploit will be through a GSM crack. (Or HSPDA. Whatever.)

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Thumb Down

Will be interesting to watch... it fail

You say: "low incomes and rampant piracy have kept most major console makers out."

So if Qcom addresses the piracy, what is being done about the low incomes (and/or high console prices) in those regions?? That will still keep these consoles from finding any appreciable market, so they haven't really solved anything.

It might be more advantageous to keep a high market share of the pirate market (like Microsoft and their pirates). Locking out your "customers" in those developing markets (who didn't have the money to buy the product anyway) would seem to force that non-customer base to use any of the competitors' products (which in Microsoft's case would be Linux).

In some measures, users are users. Any time you can keep your users from trying something else you win. Either these video game dudes make no money from piracy, or they make no money from sales. To top it off they've locked their customers (and potential free developers) out, forcing them to use anything else. No matter which way it goes you make no money. FAIL?

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@Nick

"I expect to see modified versions of this console running pirated xbox360 kernels and games a couple of months after release"

Um. You said yourself that the hardware is "abysmally specified". How can you think that it could run a modern game? Maybe by "modified" you mean "swapped the case with a 360"?

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If the games are good...

The current gen of home consoles are all about either the graphics or the waggle- theres precious little else to differentiate them from the PS2/Xbox era.

If it has enough decent/cheap games, I don't see why it wouldn't work. I've recently been playing a slew of 8-10 year old games on my eee 901 so I can vouch for the fact that a lack of shinies doesn't make a game crap.

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@Filippo

Please direct your attention to the ":)" at the end of Nick's post. It isn't accidental punctuation.

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What does a PS2 retail for in those markets now?

Gotta be able to sell it for way less than $200 at a profit.

In which case this new console offers:

a) lower specification,

b) fewer games (by at least 2 orders of magnitude, possibly 3)

c) requirement for internet/phone home in areas where that is sometimes tricky/impossible

d) more expensive games (even legally)

compared to a PS2.

Hmm. Mine's the one with the PS2 and thousands of games in the pocket.

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Paris Hilton

Fake me in the arse

I've been to Russia many a time. In fact I picked up tons of games off the market there for dirt cheap. No one will buy this shit console, they want the same games we have. They have the latest consoles but they are sold pre chipped (xbox 360 anyway) and the games are all pirated.

In Russia there is very little alternative to buying pirated software because they don't have the money to pay £30 for a game and there are very few places selling them.

If you go to a shopping mall I can guarantee all the shops selling music and games are pirated, but this goes further than games. Everything has the potential to be fake in Russia, cigarettes make up, clothes, trainers. I remember one time going down and people were talking about a facial cream that had been faked in the basement of a block of flats. In the city I go to they don't sell many Marlborough Lights any more because of excessive faking.

Its a national problem which effects most of the country outside of the big Cities like Moscow etc. but throwing in a shit console will make no difference at all. The people there aren't bothered with fakes they just see it as a means to an end and so I think they wouldn't go and buy this especially if its got the same processor as a mobile phone lol. The reason the fakes market is so big is because they all want to jump on the band wagon for the latest equipment, games, consoles at a price the public can afford.

Paris because she wouldn't be this shit console either!

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MJI
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Stop

What a joke

PS2 is cheaper - given the choice no contest

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