GC '07 Q&A: Dyack on why 'there can only be one'

Silicon Knights president thinks there will be no winner in the current console war, and eventually one platform will rule them all.


LEIPZIG, Germany--Denis Dyack believes that "commodification" will inevitably happen to video game hardware, as it has happened to every electronic item throughout history. By commodification, the Silicon Knights founder and president means that hardware brands will disappear from the industry. Eventually, he thinks there will be a standardised machine, with different manufacturers making their own models, much like DVD players, TVs, or cameras.

"All technology, under any circumstance, becomes commodified," he told Games Convention Developers Conference attendees at his keynote. "This occurs whether the industry itself wants it to or not."

Dyack said that even though there are three systems on the market, it's technically a monopoly. "In today's monopolistic market, the system works really well when one console dominates," he said. "But at the moment, the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii all have market share. Now we have three, and it becomes increasingly difficult to become successful. There's no clear market leader right now. No one can win the hardware wars."

The veteran went on to handicap the contestants in the three-way struggle. "Nintendo has come out of the gate much faster than everyone anticipated, but how about longevity? The 360 is doing well in America, but not so well in Japan," he summarized. "The PS3 is off to a really slow start but they have a really good brand name... So the truth is, no one knows."

Having three different systems on the market is a nightmare for developers, says Dyack. Game designers have to pick a console and hope it will be the winner, and porting a game onto different systems leads to watered-down versions. He said, "Trying to make a game on all three systems is very challenging and I don't know many, if any, people that are doing that right now."

Dyack also thinks that the advantages of ditching the current system will yield a myriad of advantages for the consumer. He said, "We're going to see better games and they're going to be cheaper."

He also added that he, for one, would welcome the end of the "religious wars" between fans of particular systems. "I'll be glad to see the end of these kinds of religious wars because people are trying to justify the money they spent on their console," he concluded.

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