All of the current-generation consoles (with the exception of the Wii, but that’s no surprise) are capable of producing an HDTV-quality video signal, helping to promote High-def in all of it’s un-standardized glory. This means bleeding-edge corpse explosions, pixel-by-pixel cleavage, and of course, extremely realistic terrain of a caliber previously unavailable. Or, at least that’s what they hope you’ll think so you go out and buy that $2,000 HDTV you’ve “had your eye on” for the last 7 minutes at Best Buy. Of course the image quality will be better on a High-definition TV; there’s no question that a Blu-Ray or HD-DVD will look better with twice (or higher) the resolution of your standard TV. The question is: With a $600 gaming console, and at 50% or higher prices on these High-definition DVDs, is the amount of extra money you’re paying for those pixels really giving you any advantage or status? Further, how much of the demand for High-definition entertainment equipment comes from “your buds” who need to see those extra pixels with their NFL Sunday-Ticket package versus gamers who want some illustrious “competitive edge” supposedly offered by being able to see an opponent from farther away?
Clearly this is a blog article and not an academic paper, so I don’t have the necessary data to back up my claims, but most people reading this article can likely understand where I’m coming from. We all know people who’ve gone out and dropped ridiculous amounts of money in order to make their games look better, to make their gaming experience more immersive. Everyone has a friend who found a “great deal” on some multiple-thousand dollar piece of equipment which still cost multiple-thousands of dollars. The tech industry must be loving it. If they aren’t already, there are a ton of ways these industries could capitalize off of the fleeting needs of the average gamer.
First: Re-release a High-def TV with one new feature and label it the “ultimate Halo 3 experience”. Mom’s basement would love another one of these, and there must be millions of kids nationwide who’d do anything for that new LCD screen with the 1ms-lower refresh rate.
Second: Re-release all of your old, poorly-rated (are there even any good movies that have been released on Blu-Ray/HDDVD? I think maybe the closest I’ve seen was Blue Crush or X-Men 12) movies with slightly higher quality and charge 50% more for them. This is the perfect match to step number 1, and will be highly complemented by the audio equipment you can get from step number 3.
Third: Take out some features from your $20,000 theater-quality speakers and audio subsystem and sell them in a premium audio store (since they’ve still got the brand name) for a large discount. For some reason, hearing Dolby 5.1 from five-thousand dollar speakers in 2007 sounds better than listening to Dolby 5.1 from five-hundred dollar speakers in 2000 when they introduced it. Has audio recording technology improved much since then?
While it’s hard to be sure what the actual percent of demand for these new technologies is, it’s a safe bet to say that a non-negligible portion of it is coming from today’s up-and-coming gamer generation. As long as you can make someone think that a technology will make them a little bit better playing their video games, or if you can convince them that going way past the marginal optimal spending levels for these technologies is a good then, then, well, I guess there’s no new information here.