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EgaoNoGenki's avatar

If we have universal remotes that work for many TV sets, why isn't there a universal game console that plays games from all console platforms?

Asked by EgaoNoGenki (1141 points ) February 14th, 2010

I thought of this question while reading magazines at HyVee, so I tapped it & the details into my phone.

I understand that cartridges from older consoles are proprietarily different in shape & size. However, the latest consoles – Xbox360, Nintendo Wii & PS3 all utilize circular discs of the same size & shape.

So, why shouldn’t any gaming corporation build a universal console that plays all those discs?

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19 Answers

j3fr0's avatar

How would Nintendo and such make money doing that? It’s just not finacially feasible…

EgaoNoGenki's avatar

@j3fr0 So a company other than Nintendo would manufacture the universal console.

j3fr0's avatar

I meant all major players wouldn’t agree to it.. There are already illegal universal consoles out there made in house anyhow… =D

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

They would be breaking a multitude of laws. And Microsoft has plenty of money with which to start a lawsuit.

Bluefreedom's avatar

That could constitute a monopoly on video gaming and monopolies are illegal. I think.

absalom's avatar

A universal console is not the same as a universal controller (which would be the proper gaming analogy to the universal remote). Having a universal console would be like having a universal TV/VCR/DVD/Blu-ray/digital cable/satellite combo or something.

ragingloli's avatar

The Vulcan Science Directorate has determined that it is not feasible because the games of the different consoles are made to run on different hardware, so in order to make the universal console run all games it must contain the hardware of all these consoles, which in effect would make the console about 3 times as expensive as one single original console. The other way is to emulate the hardware of the three consoles, which would require an immensely powerful system to do that. And remember, there are no proper XBox/XBox360/Ps3 emulators that can run games in a reasonably enjoyable fashion and even the best Ps2 emulator runs slowly, even on the most high end computers and does not support all games. Both ways would require reverse engineering of the consoles (which, because of anti reverse engineering licensing provisions, would be effectively illegal), as legally acquiring the technology from the manufacturers themselves is out of the question, since they want to make money from the consoles, so either they will refuse to share the technology, or they will demand prohibitively expensive license fees.

Vincentt's avatar

Even though the physical hardware is the same, the format of the software is different and thus not interoperable (i.e. the way it talks to the hardware and interact with the software already on the hardware differs per device). If would theoretically be possible, but it’d be a hell of a work that’s practically impossible.

You can compare this with Wine, a piece of software that tries to allow you to run programs written for Windows on Linux (an operating system line Windows is, but since it’s different is has the same problems as different consoles have – the software interacts with the hardware differently). What this does it “translate” the language software written for Windows use to the language software written for Linux uses. It already works for a whole lot of programs but often the support is incomplete, and for a lot of program’s it’s still not working.

This project has been running since 1993 and has had a lot of developers work on it – imagine if one were to try doing something like this for just one other console. By the time that would be finished, nobody would even remember that console ever existed. In fact, it is made even harder because the source code of Linux is public, so everybody who can program can help with Wine, but if one wanted to run Wii games on the Playstation, he would almost certainly need to work for Sony so as not to have to do a whole lot more work to discover how to talk with the Playstation. And of course, you would also need to find a way to use Wii controls on the Playstation.

I hope I haven’t said anything inaccurate of even plain wrong, obviously this is overly simplified.

odali's avatar

Different operating systems programmed to work with different hardware. It is feasible, and would be an interesting project to take on, but it would take a lot of effort to get all the operating systems onto a single platform as i am sure there are many safegaurds against it. Basically make a computer with the different operating systems of the consoles on separate harddrives, and have a bootloader like GRUB to choose what system you want to boot into. I’m sure it wouldnt be legal.

However, you are starting to see this with some of the backwards compatibility of PS3 and the ability to download NES, SNES, etc games on consoles (usually for a price).

dr34m3r's avatar

@absalom @ragingloli @Vincentt @odali

these jellies covered most of it

ucme's avatar

Hi it’s the monopoly guy here, go straight to jail do not pass go do not collect £/$ 200

HungryGuy's avatar

Technical Reason:

Because gaming consoles are, basically, computers. And each one uses different incompatible hardware. So, for example, to have a console that can play both PS3 and 360 games, you’d need to put the guts of a PS3 and a 360 into one box. You’d save a little money by having one box instead of two. But there would be no savings by combining the electronics. And since they use different controller connectors and memory card connectors, you’d still need slots for all the different cntrollers and memory cards for all the consoles you’ve got inside that one box.

Legal Reason:

The manufacturers of each of the consoles has a patent on their consoles. It would be a patent violation to make a console containing someone else’s electronic innards. By the time the patent has expired (the original Atari 2600?) the machine is so hopelessly primitive there’s no incentive to make any more, even as a no-name spin-off.

Grisaille's avatar

Human Interface Device =/= Platform

At all. Where’d you get that from?

ShiningToast's avatar

It’s called my computer ;).

Axemusica's avatar

@Vincentt Not all consoles have the same hardware. Granted they all (including computers) have the same concept, e.g. CPU, GPU, RAM, MOBO, ect… But if you were to open a 360 and PS3 you would see they are quite different, if not in different worlds, but other than that I’d say your response is pretty solid.

Not only would a “Universal Console” be illegal, it’s almost improbable to assume it’s possible. Like “The Vulcan Science Directorate has determined” lol @ragingloli you would need all “the different hardware”, not to mention the software to be able to accommodate for the type of console oriented game you want to play.

Yes, this concept does sound cool at first too, but think about the future. Look at how EA laid off 16% of it’s workforce and canceled 4–5 titles due to the economy. Imagine what games would be like if one company monopolized the gaming world. Where would the originality come from? Would the company be able to support a work force the size of Developers plus more for this single gaming system?

Theoretically, I don’t think it would work anyway. It most certainly would flop. Also, it wouldn’t be able to keep up with Sony or Microsoft since they’re constantly reinventing the system since both entered the gaming community. I don’t think a whole team of reverse engineers would be able to keep up. By the time they were able to integrate all systems into one. Nin. Sony & M$ would probably have already release 1 or 2 new systems by then.

Vincentt's avatar

@Axemusica Ah, of course, with hardware being the same I was referring to “the latest consoles (...) all utilize circular discs of the same size & shape.” :)

Axemusica's avatar

@Vincentt oh in that case, then yea, but that’s minus PS3’s bluray disc’s. Which is most of their games.

Xilas's avatar

There is, its called a PC

jerv's avatar

Emulators rock :)

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