Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo may dominate the global market for video games, but they don't rule in every corner of the world.
The extremely high cost of new video game consoles and games in Brazil has led to unusual market conditions in that emerging country - and a potential market for video game hardware makers. Due to high import taxes, new consoles like the PlayStation 3 regularly fetch in excess of $1,000 USD in Brazil.
However, an intrepid Brazilian company called Tectoy hopes to capture a portion of the young, casual gaming market in Brazil with the launch of their Zeebo home console.
This innovative piece of hardware presents the first credible challenge to the popularity of the other big three manufacturers, and lights the way toward other potential opportunities in markets south of the equator.
Under the hood, the Zeebo is no slouch, especially considering that it is aimed at a younger, more casual audience. This is definitely not one of those cheap retro devices that come with pre-loaded games and plug directly into the TV. The Zeebo packs an ARM 11 main processor clocked at 400 MHz and a second ARM 9 Graphics chip clocked at 274 MHz. With this hardware, the Zeebo should be able to compete favorably with the PlayStation 2 in terms of raw power.
Interestingly, the Zeebo does not use optical media of any kind. Instead, games are downloaded over a free 3G wireless connection and can be stored on 1 GB of internal flash memory inside the console. The machine also has an SD card port for game saves and other uses.
- Controller Interface: USB
- Power Consumption: 15 W max.
- Main CPU: ARM 11 @ 400 MHz
- Graphics CPU: ARM 9 @ 274 MHz
- 3D Graphics rendering speed: 1.6 million polygons / second
- Audio: 8 channel MP3, ADPCM, MIDI
- Resolution: 640x480 (480p)
- Dimensions: 157 x 215.4 x 44 mm
- Weight: 1.3kg
- Noise Output: Less than 106 dBm.
Tectoy will offer a mixture of older licensed games and new intellectual properties for download over its online service. Through a licensing agreement with Western and Japanese publishers, the company will be able to offer older games for download at reasonable prices ($8-$10). Some of the games that will be available at launch include Need for Speed Carbon and the original PC game Quake.
Tectoy also promises more casual fare such as generic sports titles and a Brain Training clone. With its competent graphics processor, the Zeebo could have a future as a retro gaming powerhouse, since it would be able to eat oldschool arcade platformers and fighting games for breakfast.
If Tectoy is able to offer a robust and seamless download service, the Zeebo console could be a huge success in Brazil and even in other parts of the developing world. While it will never compete with the newest cutting-edge hardware from Japan and North America, the Zeebo is a low-cost machine that offers a similar experience to services like the Wii Shop Channel and Xbox Live Arcade.
And of course, we know how successful those two distribution models have been -- just think of all the Microsoft and Wii Points we've bought in the last 12 months. The Zeebo will officially launch in Brazil this coming July for the price of $258 USD. More PlayStation 3 News...