By Nelson Schneider - 04/29/12 at 11:23 AM CT
While Apple fanboys may bristle at the notion that the traditionally low market share of their favorite operating system was one of the primary reasons for its lack of viruses and other malware, the newly-increased market penetration of Apple-based OSes has seen a corresponding increase in exploits. It seems that “security through obscurity” was one of the main things preventing malware authors from taking an active interest in Apple’s platforms.
Security through obscurity is the idea that the fewer people know about something, the safer that something will be. In the world of console games, however, fewer people knowing about a platform leads to fewer sales of that platform and, ultimately, the death of the platform. Indeed, up until this 7th Generation of consoles, the primary cause of console failure seems to have been “obscurity through obscurity.”
Think about it: If you were in the market for a game console in 1985, would you buy the NES, the console that was so well-advertised that it made the word ‘Nintendo’ synonymous with ‘videogame?’ Or would you buy the Sega Master System? I actually saw a Sega Master System… once… but I didn’t know what it was! Likewise in 1990: Would you buy the Genesis that ‘does what Nintendon’t,’ the well-advertised SNES, or the TurboGrafx-16? I knew what a SNES and Genesis were at the time, and that ‘16-bit sports action’ and ‘blast processing’ did nothing to sway me away from the platform with ‘Mario,’ ‘Zelda,’ and ‘Final Fantasy.’ But the TG-16? Never heard of it! There were many game consoles that never had a chance simply because nobody had heard of them, nobody knew what they even were, so nobody bought them, and thus nobody made games for them.
Then the Internet changed everything. Now we don’t need to rely on specialty magazines or industry insider newsletters to learn about game consoles or any other form of gadgetry. We now have easy access to a constant, incessant stream of news and information that never goes away. We know console codenames years before they launch, we know detailed hardware specs and can argue over hard numbers rather than the superiority of ‘mode 7’ versus ‘blast processing.’ We know what OnLive is, despite the fact that even one generation ago a “console” that obscure would have died in ignominy (of course, I’m of the opinion that OnLive deserves to die anyway). Today’s consoles don’t need to rely on flashy, stupid advertising… they actually CAN’T rely on it. Instead, the consoles of today need to be the best.
To succeed in a market where everyone is aware of all your flaws, you simply need the fewest flaws to earn marketshare and eventually win. The upcoming 8th Generation, the WiiU, Durango, and Orbis, will have a tough fight ahead of them in a market where everyone is already aware of – and swooning over – low-priced PC games from Steam and GOG as well as casual games from smartphone/tablet app stores. This is the same market where everyone is also already dreading yet another price hike on console games (handheld games are up to $40, surely consoles will be pushing $70) as well the surely-to-be-outrageous prices of the consoles themselves. None of the three new consoles will flounder because nobody has heard of them; they will instead fail because we know too much.