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Why aren't there game console-like PCs?



  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 22,677
    Ridelynn said:
    Quizzical said:
    Consoles lose money on pretty much every sale, much of the revenue comes from the license to develop on the platform being one. Developing specifically for one specific type of hardware combination with an OS built to do pretty much one specific task also affects performance is another.
    Which is why I said you increase the price tag a little.  If you're losing $20 on every console you sell by selling them for $400, wouldn't you make money on every unit you sell if you're selling them for $500?  Why can't someone do that?

    And game consoles aren't nearly as special built of hardware as they used to.  The PS4, PS4 Pro, Xbox One, and Xbox One X all run off the shelf x86 CPU cores and a GCN/Polaris GPU--the same architectures you'd get in a PC.  The Nintendo Switch runs a completely standard Tegra X1 that Nvidia had built for other purposes, with ARM cores like you'd get in any cell phone or tablet and a Maxwell GPU like you'd get in a PC, though that's a much lower performance target than what I had in mind here.
    I'd like to see this too. But I think you are underestimating how much they lose on consoles. Looking at phones is a better example because you can see how much they cost with a plan and without. In Japan, I can get a phone for about $400 cheaper with a cell plan. That's for a recent $1000 phone. 

    Steam might be able to pull this off. Sign up for a 2 yer Steam contract to buy games. Have a monthly contract to spend X dollars, that carries over for a set number of months. I might go for that depending on the PC and the monthly amount.
    If you can standardize around a small number of components, reduce the number of sockets and connections, and make as much of the assembly automated, you can really reduce the manufacturing cost considerably, especially when your planning on manufacturing thousands/millions of identical units. This is, after all, a good part of the reason that consoles often start out losing money, but by the time they have cranked out a few million of them end up making money, even while offering discounts.

    I mean, look at successful laptops, phones, and consoles. There is almost nothing on them that is end-user upgradeable. That is big part of what they do to control cost (or, in the case of Apple, protect margin). I don't necessarily mean to equate user upgradeability with mass production -- that isn't necessarily true. But there is no reason to pay extra for the ability to upgrade when it's contrary to your business model (trying to sell a new model next year), adds manufacturing complexity, adds additional points of failure (a ZIFF socket is much more susceptible to having something go wrong than soldered BGA, for instance) and it adds additional material cost.

    There's nothing that has prevented a PC manufacturer from doing the same. In fact, I'd argue Apple has done it since 2013, which was when they phased out the last Desktop that had significant amount of upgradeability. Apple just doesn't cater to gaming (except on iOS, to some degree).

    Several manufacturers have done it with gaming-specific laptops to varying degrees. Just none have tried to target a console price point: something that would be easier to do if you aren't attempting to bundle a LCD screen in a foldable form factor.

    Gamers, and the PC crowd in general, prize upgradeability and hardware diversity. Historically they have been more than willing to pay for it in the past. I don't see any reason why anyone would look to subsidize something when the market is proving willing to bear the cost, and then some.
    Game consoles getting cheaper as time passes is driven by the same thing as all other computer hardware getting cheaper as time passes:  die shrinks.  You can start with a 300 mm^2 die that costs a lot to make, then two years later, do a die shrink to get the same performance in a 180 mm^2 die that also uses less power.  Another two years and another die shrink trims it down to a 100 mm^2 die that uses so little power that you make a slim version of the console.

    Needing less power also more directly saves money in a variety of ways.  Die shrinks also make a given memory capacity cheaper.  They may mean that what was once a high bin of memory is later a lower, cheaper bin.  If you're using an SSD, they make a given capacity of SSD cheaper.  Hard drives aren't exactly on the same die shrink model as other hardware, but density improvements allow you to use fewer platters for a given storage capacity, at least until you get down to just one.
  • FlyByKnightFlyByKnight Member EpicPosts: 3,967
    There's so much variety in the PC space it's hard to get a good price point. PC users also have the ideology that if they don't build for self it's the wrong path. In addition they don't believe in normalized experience for fairness. They believe in advantage at cost. It's not a profitable market because the base will never buy in. It will always be "my PC is better get gud".

    Consoles on the other hand, everyone has bought into the concept of owning something that somebody else has. A company would literally have to trick the market into believing it's NOT a PC and NOT Windows underneath or it's Lord of The Flies: PC Hardware Edition.
    "As far as the forum code of conduct, I would think it's a bit outdated and in need of a refre *CLOSED*" 

  • gervaise1gervaise1 Member EpicPosts: 6,919
    edited October 2018
    Quizzical said:
    gervaise1 said:
    Quizzical said:
    You're basically arguing that most of the computer hardware that you can buy today either doesn't or shouldn't exist.  Especially in the lower budget range, computers are a very competitive market and profit margins are low.

    Microsoft and Sony surely do get a per-unit discount from AMD, but that's compensation for having paid the up front development costs of the hardware, meaning that AMD is guaranteed to make a profit on developing the consoles without regard to whether Microsoft or Sony buy many chips or few.

    As for the "if it was possible" line, have you ever looked at prebuilt desktops or laptops?  The hardware configurations are completely insane.  For example, it's been possible for many years to include a $100 SSD in a sub-$1000 laptop, but laptop vendors couldn't be bothered to do so until recently.
    I think you missed the point of "if it was possible". Just because they may sell some stupid builds doesn't mean that if they had the secret recipe to some all conquering build they would ignore it; we have to believe they would build it and clean up! However I was thinking about "total costs".

    Lets assume it is possible to price components that can be used to create a suitable "low cost decent power" PC - and based on component costs "we" are inclined to feel that that should be the case. sorting the component costs is only a part of the task however. Once built the company then has to sell what it has built.

    Even if we ignore the upfront costs - which will generate interest charges if the company has borrowed the money, interest that will add to the cost - they then have to spend money to sell it. And selling costs.

    And if they have no name and are up against a known brand with an established reputation for quality buid etc. it won't be enough to sell at slightly less; they will have to sell at a "lot less" to make people take a leap of faith.

    And additionally the % cost difference shrinks when you allow for thinks like distribution, packaging, build, order invoicing etc. At best a new company will only be able to match these costs. In reality MS and Sony have refined their operations so they will almost certainly be higher. 

    And the lower the companies margin the higher their sales volume needs to be to recoup the non-hardware costs. Those MS and Sony development costs that factor into the AMD cost ... they are costs that are been spread over many, many units.  

    I agree with you that it would be wonderful. For it to happen though I think we will need a very small number of manufacturers selling many millions worldwide. 

    Maybe a super Rasberry Pi !
    You're missing the point.  Your arguments are against producing any product ever.

    Let's suppose that a company is going to sell computers.  For a particular model, they're going to spend $X each to build a computer that they'll try to sell for $Y.  X and Y are some fixed amounts, but they'll have a number of models and options in that range.

    Why don't they take one such model and optimize how they spend that $X to make it the best gaming computer that they can?  For large values of $X and $Y, they sometimes do.  But why doesn't anyone do that for $Y = $400 or $500 or $600 so, at least outside of game consoles?

    PlayRuyi is doing exactly that with the Subor Z+.  But why are they the only one?
    No I understand your point. I think its a good question and wish it would happen. Its the $500 price. The cost of components is only a part of total cost nor is it the largest. 

    The Subor Z+ - good to see. In China though it has a reported $730 equivalent price - $625 without tax. (With monitor so maybe take a chunk off?) Outside of China we could be looking at higher prices taking into account taxes, maybe tarriffs, distribution and the advertising needed to push an unknown brand.

    Maybe it will catch on, volumes will rise and prices will fall.

    The best hope might be the integrated board catching on and being adopted by current big box manufacturers, 

    Current big box companies offer limited options. Case, packaging, delivery, order system, m/b, power supply - a lot of stuff is only distinguished by a small number of options like choice of cpu.

    And to be fair to them this means that the likes of Dell offer home PCs starting at $300 and gaming PCs at $600. Presumably without tax. And yes that would be Dell's definition of a gaming PC etc. 

    If they take the current shell and stuff the Subor Z+ board inside it then maybe we will see a return to the Commodores and Amstrad "home computers" of yesteryear.

    Edit: and maybe something like this might push MS to open up the XBox further - will it get to the point it can be used as a PC though for all games though.
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