All For One

At first glance it might seem convenient to occupy a world where all my gaming occurred on a single platform. It is a dream convincingly illustrated and suggested by industry insiders from David Jaffe and Denis Dyack to Gerhard Florin and Keita Takahashi; the promise of high quality games at low price points, which is the sort of line we're fed every time the industry wants to lurch down some new path of supposed innovation. But, in a rare twist on the old story, the numbers behind the one-console philosophy actually support a scenario where the cost of doing business would drop so dramatically and the market would open so wide that it's tempting to believe that we would be the beneficiaries.

I think Silicon Knights' Denis Dyack provides perhaps the most convincing and reasonable argument for the potential of a single platform, which may be why he's become the concept's knight in shining armor. Dyack not only posits that this is a potentially positive force, but even suggests that inevitably the industry will move to the single platform standard. For a gamer, like me, that owns a PC, Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and a DS, the idea of reducing to a single platform standard – potentially one that would be on the low end of the cost spectrum – starts with roughly a $1000 head-start.

So would it work?

Simplistic arguments are too often the most vulnerable to the subtleties of real world application, so when I tell you that Dyack's arguments incorporate complicated concepts that can't be easily explained without a correspondence course in economics; see it as both blessing and curse. Theories of commodification and performance oversupply may make for poor pull quotes, but in they are powerful, tidal forces in the business of technology. Dyack lives, breathes and makes video games in the real world where nothing that might spin the momentum of a multi-billion dollar industry is ever simple.

So I asked an expert to put these theories into something I could wrap my noodle around. Here's how I understand the inevitability of a one-console standard as Dyack describes it.

This is a future where the manufacture of video game hardware looks a lot like DVD players. There would exist a single standard on which the platform is built, and hardware manufacturers like Microsoft or Sony would be analogs to Toshiba, Phillips, Panasonic and others in the DVD market. Dyack puts the cell phone industry forward as a prime example of commodification and an analog for the video game industry, where companies still compete with hardware but it is all built off compatible standards. In the way that you can receive a call from cross-platform cell phones or watch a DVD on basically any player, so too would the gaming industry move to a platform where a single console standard would be the same between hardware made by Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, Panasonic or Toshiba.

The knee-jerk concern is that a console standard will somehow stifle competition, but historical evidence of commodification doesn't really support the concern. Tech sectors aren't burdened by standards, and just as Motorolla, Apple and other cell phone manufacturers still manage healthy competition, so too would the players in a gaming industry. We are not talking about a scenario where, say, Microsoft manages to corner the market and everyone is buying Xbox 360s. If anything an open standard would be a force for reducing manufacturing costs opening up the market to more competition. On the developing and publishing end, things get even better.

A standardized system of tools for creating games on a single console would dramatically lower the costs of development. We already see evidence of this from middleware like Havoc or DirectX, saving developers money and man hours by providing standardized tools for delivering content in games. In an environment where it costs millions of dollars to even put the tools in place to begin development of current-gen (formerly known as next-gen) games, the idea of standardized tools and a unified consumer base where you no longer have to support multiple platforms to maximize sell-through is incredibly enticing.

The benefits for smaller development houses is even more staggering. Taking digital art as a rough analog, imagine that a JPG, PNG or TIFF is an equivalent to a video game. With these standards in place a digital artist has development options for creating his work from using expensive proprietary software like Photoshop to opensource tools like GIMP. By incorporating the standards, and as a by-product eliminating the approval process necessary to get a game on a major console, the creators of products are back in the driver's seat.

And, for consumers, the traditional promise of lower prices remains the carrot perpetually dangled on the end of that stick of promises. But from a broader perspective, gone would be the days of exclusives, the necessity of purchasing multiple platforms, and potentially more inventive and innovative games as developers no longer need the bona fide hit every time they come up to bat. Along with the traditional AAA multi-million dollar budgeted games, we'd see the potential for a broader range of content as small developers would be able to experiment similar to what we see from companies like PopCap and GarageGames.

It could be, as proponents of the single console standard point out, a win-win-win scenario.

But before we march onward to digital utopia, a moment must be given to the other side of the equation. While a lot of good may come from the commodification of the gaming industry, I'd argue that Dyack is premature to imply that the forces driving the industry are inexorable in their tidal surge toward the one-console standard. And, in fact, that might not be a bad thing.

We can see standardization at work now in the high-definition DVD war, which will ultimately choose either HD-DVD, Blu-Ray or some combination of the two as the long-term standard, just as VHS beat out Betamax a few decades ago. The reason this force is so strong is because, from a consumer point of view, the difference between the two formats is not significant. But, is it so easy to draw such distinct lines in the sand between the 360 and a PS3, or more dramatically still a PS3 and Wii? The argument seems to be, historically speaking at least, that as these systems add features like internet connectivity, dvd playback, media streaming, etc. they are moving to this concept of commodification by taking the competition away from the idea of what a video game is into the realm of what features you can add onto this standard idea of a video game. But, put three consumers in a room, one who plays Wii Sports, one who plays JRPGs and a third who plays Halo 3 competitively online, to describe a video game and you might be hard pressed to find any kind of standard. The market for video games is, if anything, more divided on the point than ever as three strong systems with marked differences compete in a market that seems as far away from standardization as ever.

And, as for the hardware manufacturers themselves, they are only interested in standardization if their hardware becomes the standard. Simply put, the strongest argument against the feasibility of commodification is the intense stubbornness of the players involved. Where publishers are luke warm on the idea at best, and dismissive of it otherwise, and retailers are enjoying the benefits of a nice hot console war, the only people in the industry with a convincing stake in the matter is people exactly like Denis Dyack. That's not a criticism by a mile; an industry where smaller independent developers find a strong footing on an even playing field is certainly attractive, but without a strong push from consumers, retailers, publishers and to some degree even the hardware manufacturers themselves to standardize this seems like a nice dream at best.

And, for use consumers, the price for standardization would not be lack of competition but lack of innovation. Let's not forget, first of all, how long consumers resisted the transition from just VHS to DVD, so too imagine if there was one standard for gaming how exaggerated might be the transition between gaming generations. Standardization encourages stagnation, and developers, publishers and manufacturers are unlikely to keep pushing the borders of new technologies unless there is competition for hardware. Dyack's concerns about performance oversupply may eventually become valid as the technology leaps between generations deteriorates much as has occurred in the processor market, but the difference between a PS2 and PS3 is still so great as to be significant. The competition between Microsoft and Sony and Nintendo remains an innovative, if expensive, force.

The single console argument finds some strength in arguing that simplifying the market would benefit a broader consumer base, but in practical terms it's hard to suggest that the video game industry is suffering on the heels of yet another record breaking year. Consumers may grudgingly be forced to make a choice as to what console they will spend their money on, but consumers will have to start choosing not to spend their money at all or overwhelmingly force the issue in a single direction for natural commodification to occur. Despite the PS3's disappointing performance versus its lofty expectations, even that system has received broad adoption. Standardization of gaming platforms is not something that the market is demanding.

It is nice to imagine that prices would drop with a standard, but I would argue that the competition between console makers this generation alone has done more to drop prices as fast or faster than any kind of enforced standard would. Even cell phones remain expensive propositions, usually requiring multi-year commitments for the basic, entry level phones, and one can spend as much on a decent Blackberry or iPhone as they would an Xbox 360. DVD players aren't exactly handed out in Cracker Jack boxes either, and took years to drop in price compared to a Playstation 3 which has enjoyed multiple price drops and is among the cheapest Blu-Ray players on the market.

So, as consumers what the one-console revolution might bring us is basically the same games we get now for basically the same price with less hardware innovation and a broader focus on mass market appeal. In the same way that watching the industry become as bloated and vacuous as the movie industry was like watching your kid grow up to become a divorce lawyer (apologies to divorce lawyers, but it's not like I'm the first guy to call you out), the commodification of gaming might not be an ideal option. Frankly, I like that video games push boundaries and exist on the bleeding edge of technology. I remain unconvinced that the gains from making life easier for developers and publishers would outweigh the potential stagnation of the industry – which is, after all, about software more than hardware – or dramatically benefit consumers. More than that, the entrenched conflict in the current generation makes the entire argument seem moot, where no one company is likely to agree on any kind of standard unless it's theirs.

To me, the one-console world seems like a pipe dream, and as a consumer, not even a very good one.

Comments

Great article! A few initial thoughts:

I would agree that this is unlikely to happen in the near future simply because there is no incentive for hardware manufacturers to cooperate. Gaming is still rapidly changing and there is no clear leader to gather around. Each console generation has seen major shake ups. Sony dominated with the PS2, but who knows how the PS3 will pan out. MS is a new-comer, but they're doing damn well with just their second console. Nintendo enjoyed leadership in the SNES days, fell behind with the GameCube, and has recently surprised the industry with the Wii. It's still anyone's game right now - if you're stupid enough to even place a bet, you're gonna have a hell of a time deciding between the three.

With the VHS vs. Beta thing, it was pretty clear that it was gonna be either VHS or Beta, and that whichever one won out would win out for a good, long time (and indeed VHS did). Other companies had their own technologies, but everyone soon realized that they sucked compared to VHS or Beta. There was also almost no difference between the two, which gave the justified impression that the technology was not gonna get much better (and it didn't for quite a while). So there was little incentive to go at it with your own new technology.

I would disagree, however, that publishers are lukewarm to this idea. It seems to me that they only stand to win from a unified platform. Sure, sometimes they get money for keeping their games exclusive to one console, but that is rare (not every game is a Metal Gear or Final Fantasy). You do see publishers here and there hinting at the inconveniences of multi-platform development, such as Rockstar's recent comments about the PS3. Why wouldn't publishers want this?

Anyways, great article.

Elysium wrote:

For a gamer, like me, that owns a PC, Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and a DS, the idea of reducing to a single platform standard – potentially one that would be on the low end of the cost spectrum – starts with roughly a $1000 head-start.

How would a single console be able to take over all of those? It would have to be a hand held computer with four controller ports, a touch screen and be more powerful than anything on the market. To me that sentence is why I don't think there will ever be one console.

A bit more to add..

While I do agree that this won't happen soon, I think it eventually will happen, and it will be good for the consumer.

You say that standardization will kill technological innovation, and I think you're right. But I think you would also agree that standardization is unlikely to happen as long as there is innovation to be done. So, this is a moot point as you have pointed out. But eventually, gaming technology will taper off. Who knows how long it'll take, but we will reach a point where our current technology trajectory will reach its limits. At this point, console manufacturers will likely start talking about a standard platform.

And once this happens, consumers only stand to win:

1) You won't lose technological innovation because, as a pre-condition for standardization, there will be no real innovation left to do.

2) Gaming innovation would then be mostly on the software side, and it would become easier due to a single platform. Tools and talent will finally get the proper time to mature without worrying about the next generation of consoles obsolescing their investments. As a result, more middle-ware companies will be able to compete in tools, thus driving prices down and lowering costs for indie developers. Developers themselves will be able to build on hard-earned knowledge and software instead of throwing much of it away for every generation. These are all great things.

3) Hardware prices will drop dramatically. If you think competition amongst the 3 companies drives down prices now, wait until you get 10 electronics companies competing by manufacturing for the same standard. We're talking about companies like RCA, Phillips, Panasonic, etc. all going into console manufacturing now thanks to a stable standard. Compare price drops of DVD players vs. the PS2. And don't get me started on the prices of controllers...(I personally think expensive controllers is a major obstacle in making gaming a more social activity...but I digress).

Of course, the standard would only last so long until someone comes out with a major technological break through, like DVD shook up VHS.

Purple_Haze wrote:

How would a single console be able to take over all of those? It would have to be a hand held computer with four controller ports, a touch screen and be more powerful than anything on the market. To me that sentence is why I don't think there will ever be one console.

OK that would be pretty extreme, and I don't think anyone is seriously arguing for that much standardization. I think people are mainly talking about TV-based consoles. You will agree that combining the PS3, the 360, and the Wii is technologically possible, no?

Standardization hasn't stopped innovation in the PC market. Intel vs AMD, ATI vs Nvidia, ... Of course, if consoles would go down the path of upgrades the line between PC's and consoles would blur even more.

PCs aren't standardized in the way I'm talking about here.

dejanzie wrote:

Standardization hasn't stopped innovation in the PC market. Intel vs AMD, ATI vs Nvidia, ... Of course, if consoles would go down the path of upgrades the line between PC's and consoles would blur even more.

I think PCs is probably the best analogy into what standardization in consoles might look like, and it's not a great picture. There exists a standard, but no one implements it - they implement the standard plus extra fiddly bits (which eventually end up in the standard).

I can't see it happening. The gaming industry is tech addicted (perhaps understandably) and maintaining the addiction requires reasonably quick console cycles and - as I think we can all now agree after this generation - affordable hardware. Since the gaming industry probably won't slow the pace of technology, I don't see how standardization could work.

I've always thought the idea that prices on individual games would drop with lower development costs to be a bit... silly. Were movie tickets to Juno cheaper than movie tickets to I Am Legend? Reality TV shows cost pennies on the dollar compared to situational comedies, are Survivor's seasonal DVD sets significantly cheaper than Friends? When looking at songs on iTunes or Amazon do you see a price difference based on the cost of the recording studio?

Of course there's no price difference. Saving on production costs in any medium are rarely if ever passed on the consumers, they just means the creator and/or publisher makes more money. We've accepted paying fifty to seventy US dollars per video game and that isn't going away.

dejanzie wrote:

Standardization hasn't stopped innovation in the PC market. Intel vs AMD, ATI vs Nvidia, ... Of course, if consoles would go down the path of upgrades the line between PC's and consoles would blur even more.

The moment that upgrades are introduced to a console architecture is the moment said console loses THE defining characteristic of a console: fixed, stable hardware.

Playing both PC and console games myself, one of the greatest things about consoles is that you don't have to worry about whether a given game will run. Buy it. Drop it in the tray. Play. No thinking. No checking system requirements. No tweaking of settings. Console gaming should be dead simple.

On a side note, Microsoft and Sony have both made this generation unnecessarily complex by introducing a metric bewilder-ton of console SKUs. Bad platform holders! Three kicks to the junk for each of you!

stevesan wrote:

OK that would be pretty extreme, and I don't think anyone is seriously arguing for that much standardization. I think people are mainly talking about TV-based consoles. You will agree that combining the PS3, the 360, and the Wii is technologically possible, no?

I guess that is technologically possible, but I don't wanna play fps games on a console, nor do I want to play wii sports with a controller or soul calibur with a wii-mote. This is why I don't see a standardized console working.

Purple_Haze wrote:

I guess that is technologically possible, but I don't wanna play fps games on a console, nor do I want to play wii sports with a controller or soul calibur with a wii-mote. This is why I don't see a standardized console working.

To play Devil's Advocate here I believe the argument would be thus: there are plenty of people do play FPS games on a console, Wii sports would be possible with an IR receiver and a specialized remote, and every look and feel of a controller is available for the PC with fully mappable buttons so why would a standardized console be any different in that respect?

Elysium wrote:

PCs aren't standardized in the way I'm talking about here.

I'm talking about a uniform platform, with standards to which any new console technology would conform (like any non-mac cpu conforming to the old Intel standard, and any pc can be equipped with an AMD or a Nvidia alike). This way there can be tech cycles without a developer having to change their kits every minute. Or maybe that's what you mean, and I am stupid and you can ignore my post

Two cents:
1. A standard platform would be useful to developers, not necessarily to customers. As has already been said, the developers don't really need to pass the saving on the customers - moreso in the case where there is just one platform with (probably) standardized game price.

2. From the purely economic point of view, in the long run there is no way that there will be only one platform. Yes, there can be dominant ones (VHS at home vs. higher-quality Beta for professional use, CDs vs. MiniDiscs, you name it), but as long as there is money to be made and market niches to be exploited, there will be competition. Case in point: Nintendo. Seeing the dominance of Gameboys, there were competitors cropping up, despite the overwhelming presence of a single standard, some more successful (Wonderswan, Gamepark) than the others (Ngage, Gizmondo).

Less choice is always bad.

One more point, just to elaborate a bit further. Yes, DVDs are great and they are standard and you can play them everywhere. But if there would be a possibility to buy a different format, that provides similar image quality, but always without regional lock and encryption and no unskippable bullsh*t that says I cannot pirate my disc, I would be all over it. This is just to illustrate the caveats of single platform.

Isn't it going the other way around? Where engines and development environments (XNA) are created to be compatible with multiple platforms. In this way licensing the UT3 engine enables your to build your game on top of that, while the engine makes sure your code works on all 3 platforms. (PC,360,PS3)

Will this kind of middleware make the different platforms obsolete and thus drive them to a single standard platform? Or will this middleware just ensure the survival of the different platforms?

Koning_Floris wrote:

Isn't it going the other way around? Where engines and development environments (XNA) are created to be compatible with multiple platforms. In this way licensing the UT3 engine enables your to build your game on top of that, while the engine makes sure your code works on all 3 platforms. (PC,360,PS3)

Will this kind of middleware make the different platforms obsolete and thus drive them to a single standard platform? Or will this middleware just ensure the survival of the different platforms?

I think this is precisely what's hapenning, and it's a tremendous barrier to small shops. The costs for licensing these middleware tools is substantial. In effect, they are the replacement for cooperation. If you could get the big hardware players to agree on something, the middleware would become far, far less important, and smaller projects might have a better chance.

But this is the reality we live in - I don't think a single standard is in the works. I do think there will be a continued homogenization on the tools though. Where's Levine when we need him. I'd love his take on this.

Excellent article Elysium. A quick thought:

I would predict one of the biggest show stoppers in getting some kind of consolidation between all the platforms would be the revenue lost to each company each time you buy a game for their specific platform. Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn't Microsoft get $10 for every 360 game sold (hence the extra $10 price difference between the same game on the PC vs 360)? If you created a platform analogous to DVD players, wouldn't the big 3 lose a large amount of money by not being able to receive money on every game sold, since Gears of War 3 could be played on a Sony made console as much as the Microsoft version of the console?

Elysium wrote:

PCs aren't standardized in the way I'm talking about here.

But moreso, then, neither are the cellphones?

I would love 1 platform. Yeah it might not work in the real world. I think it would be great, but it's easy to see today that many folks have different gaming needs or wants.

Surely though the PS3, 360 and pc could be combined into 1 platform.

It is nice to imagine that prices would drop with a standard, but I would argue that the competition between console makers this generation alone has done more to drop prices as fast or faster than any kind of enforced standard would. Even cell phones remain expensive propositions, usually requiring multi-year commitments for the basic, entry level phones, and one can spend as much on a decent Blackberry or iPhone as they would an Xbox 360. DVD players aren't exactly handed out in Cracker Jack boxes either, and took years to drop in price compared to a Playstation 3 which has enjoyed multiple price drops and is among the cheapest Blu-Ray players on the market.

Another point is that DVD players aren't all created equal. At home I have a stock simple RCA DVD player that I'll be sorry to see go. It doesn't have any fancy trappings-- no zoom feature, for example, and the remote has buttons for play, rewind, fast forward, skip forward, skip back, pause, stop, power, enter, menu, arrows for menu navigation and a 0-9 keypad. That's it.

My parents, on the other hand, have a Toshiba DVD player with a remote so complicated it could be used to play Warcraft 3 with hotkeys for everything. Features up the wazoo. Not that any of them get used.

Ditto for cell phones. My phone has a camera, voice dialing, and address book. Then there's the iPhone, which does just about everything except cook your breakfast in the morning. (Word has it Jobs was working on it, but could only make it work on 10% of kitchen ranges. Badum CHING!)

I can't see how this model of standardization will work for game systems, where features actually affect the use. The fact that my phone has a camera in it doesn't make it not work as a phone, and the fact that my parents' DVD player has forty three buttons on the remote with cryptic names like MPX, FLIV and A-B (I made one of those up. Guess which one!) doesn't change the fact that it does play DVDs, if you can figure out how to make it.

But with something as interactive as video gaming, a standard Video Game Player (VGP) is a whole new kettle of fish. If one VGP has a given feature X that game Y incorporates, owners of VGP without that feature won't be able to play that game, or won't be able to play it as fully as people with feature X.

I suppose this could be dealt with through the controller ports (goodness knows there's no shortage of console games with proprietary controllers), but it still represents and expensive proposition for the developer as well as the consumer. Since the developer couldn't expect players to have the same feature sets, they would have to either develop a controller that adds the feature, or not develop a game to work with an existing feature that some percent of the market has. Or they could just say "if you want this game, you need a player with this feature" which means forfeiting a segment of the market and leaving gamers with lower-tier VGPs out in the cold.

To sum up, it gets complicated.

Of course, the simple solution is to simply dictate all of the features that every VGP must have at the start, thus making the VGP unique when compared to the DVD and cell phone market. But getting a bunch of hardware and software developers to agree to such a thing would be like herding cats. (Just look at HDMI)

I fail to see how a single platform format is any different from a PC.

Lobster,

When someone makes a game for the PC, they have a HUGE range of hardware they need to support, test on, etc. on top of variations in operating systems, potential software conflicts, etc.

When someone makes a DVD, they just make a DVD. Similarly, when someone makes a 360 game, even though there ARE different SKUs, MSFT mandates that the games be coded for one standard (the non Hard Drive SKU).

Now I have that Bryan Adams song stuck in my head. This commodification thing is already turning out to be a raw deal.

Montalban wrote:

Now I have that Bryan Adams song stuck in my head. This commodification thing is already turning out to be a raw deal.

Me too! I'd say Sony is Sting, Microsoft is Bryan Adams and Rod Stewart is Nintendo.

Reminds of the 3do days where I had a panasonic 3d0, my friend had a goldstar, and I think another had a sanyo one? I think Trip Hawkins was pushing the one console idea way back then.

I don't really remember, but I think they all had the same price. Didn't save me any money by having multiple manufacturers.

rabbit wrote:

Lobster,

When someone makes a game for the PC, they have a HUGE range of hardware they need to support, test on, etc. on top of variations in operating systems, potential software conflicts, etc.

When someone makes a DVD, they just make a DVD. Similarly, when someone makes a 360 game, even though there ARE different SKUs, MSFT mandates that the games be coded for one standard (the non Hard Drive SKU).

But similarly most graphics cards run on the same basic format, like the OS or DX version. Windows would be a more apt comparison to a platform then say PC.

I don't see how standardization would work. Would the Wii and DS of the future never come to fruition?

Elysium wrote:

PCs aren't standardized in the way I'm talking about here.

But they are standardized in the way Dennis Dyack is talking about, DirectX and Windows.

When game developers talk of standardization, they're talking about a Virtual Machine to write games against. This is how cellphones and HD-DVD/Blu-Ray work now. Standardization for software is not done on a hardware level anymore. You have a piece of Virtual Machine software and a standard for that Virtual Machine, then anyone can implement hardware any way they feel like it, as long as it can execute the basic instructions in the Virtual Machine format. For Cellphones and BluRay the virtual machine is Java, for instance. Alot of the PCs problems is that they're trying to standardize on the actual machine instead of a virtual machine like .NET or Java. Microsoft seems to be trying to change this with XNA which runs game code on a .NET virtual machine.

I not only think standardizing on a gaming virtual machine is inevitable, it's in many ways already here. It's called Unreal Engine 3. Think about how many games are released simultaneously on 2-3 different platforms with the exact same art, game and sound assets. They're all done with some middleware engine like Unreal. And that's very close to the virtual machine model Dyack is talking about.

For instance, it makes no sense whatsoever that PS3 Rock Band isn't compatible with X360 Rock Band. All of my non-gamer friends have the same reaction when I explain the PS3 guitars won't work on X360, it makes no sense to them whatsoever. It's the same hardware, the same guitar, the same software, the same songs, everything. They're identical. Tons of games this generation are in this boat. And I bet on the backend they look very similar too. Because doing unique work for each console takes money, so the smallest amount of specialized work, the better for developers and publishers.

The facts are that it saves money to write to some middleware standard, and have the engine developers specialize per-platform as much as possible. So not only is the process going to continue, you'll see it continue to grow and encompass more and more of the game until we have a virtual machine whether the customer sees it or not.

Then it's just a matter of time before someone decides that they can make money by having a console that can play any game from any other console. Just partner with Epic and a few other engine creators and create a universal binary that is basically VM instructions and an embedded VM. Then you can make a console that implements that VM and you've got a universal console. Possibly your selling point is that your console can not only play many PS4/Wii2/X720 games, you can also buy software to implement this VM on your Windows PC and play those games there. Or your digitally distributed game can be played on Windows and your console with the same binary.

The point is it saves too much money and time from a developer/publisher perspective for it not happen on the back end. It's just a matter of whether the customer will actually get to benefit from the increased hardware competition or not.

I not only think standardizing on a gaming virtual machine is inevitable, it's in many ways already here. It's called Unreal Engine 3. Think about how many games are released simultaneously on 2-3 different platforms with the exact same art, game and sound assets. They're all done with some middleware engine like Unreal. And that's very close to the virtual machine model Dyack is talking about.

I don't argue that the tools aren't there to move this forward, but as you point out in the very next paragraph the will to do it is completely lacking on all ends of the spectrum. Also, I'm not sure that the fact that some games are made with UE3 means that it's a standard exactly. It's an example on a small scale of what sort of large scale possibilities exist with a standard, like say DirectX which is a standard for Windows game development (also, you're leaving out that there's a lot of Personal Computer architecture out there that isn't standardized).

I still say the forces against moving toward standardization in the industry are exponentially stronger. You can lead a horse to water ...

Actually, in this case you can lead a stubborn jackass to water...

Please don't use cell phone software as a way to show off the right way to do a mono-platform setup for the industry. It's a lot more nightmarish on the coding side that you believe.

Anyway, great article. Me and my coworkers were actually talking about this sort of thing a few years ago, comparing the XBOX 360 and the PS3, saying the only TRUE difference is the Blu-Ray, HD-DVD alliance. Maybe I'll elaborate more in an e-mail to the show about the ideas we came up with.