The logic seems sound: a console that downloads games over the mobile phone system that developing countries already have, with prices approaching those paid for pirated games. You see, the PS3 and Wii haven't been launched in Brazil yet, so prices for legitimate consoles there are 3-5x more than other countries. Perhaps no surprise to anyone, piracy is rampant and old hardware is still popular (via TecToy, Sega's MegaDrive is still a hot product).
And that's the sales pitch: 5-50MB games, locked to each console, impossible to copy. Surely people will fall over themselves to get ten-year-old games in countries where they still think the 19-year-old MegaDrive is awesome. And if not, consider the pull of original titles like Extreme Sports and Super Action Hero.
The problem is, their sales pitch is full of lies and misinformation. If it's not a scam to suck money from gullible investors, it's certainly a company run by idiots. Let's go through their claims.
Piracy: They claim that they can defeat piracy, and use bullshit claims and bad math to back it up. ESA figures are quoted, indicating a $3 Billion loss in 2007, due to piracy, then claim that for every legit game sold ten more are pirated. Doing the math, it seems that they want you to believe 10 x legit sales = $3b. ESA's own figures say that legit sales for 2007 were $9.5 Billion...
This is a great quote: "Due to rampant piracy, [...] today’s popular gaming platforms aren’t affordable..." I guess it's unusual to conflate the idea of expensive consoles and piracy, normally that's a software problem, but OK. Let's assume that much makes sense. How are we to believe the idea that piracy makes things less affordable? Last time I checked it made things cheaper. Silly me.
They further claim that hundreds of millions of games have been downloaded wirelessly without one ever being pirated. At first I thought they were joking, as a search on any warez site will turn up hundreds of mobile phone downloads cracked and ready to play, but then I read between the lines: Out of all the wireless games out there, one of them still hasn't been pirated! I wonder which one it is... No matter how you read it, Zeebo doesn't look good: They're liars, or idiots.
Pricing: Their strategy is to charge more than the local price for imported games. I can't even imagine how that makes the slightest bit of sense, so I'm just gonna leave this here... "Selling titles for only a slight premium over the gray market prices of the original titles, so consumers have no reason to leave home to shop."
Magic! "Providing automatic wireless software upgrades so consumers are never faced with console obsolescence or warranty issues with either the console or the games..." I can't imagine how they're gonna resolve warranty problems with the power of wireless. Qualcomm's fucking amazing!
Style: ZeeboNet. Z-Credits. 'ZEN Interface'. The Z-Wheel. I'm done here.
Raw Brutal Power: 128MB RAM! Well, OK, it's a low-power low-cost system that (and this is a real selling point for them) weighs less than an Xbox 360 power supply. RAM's heavy, obviously, so it was chucked. But hey, at least it has VGA graphics, right? 640x480 video, and since it's VGA we know it'll be non-interlaced (ie: progressive). Too bad it only has composite-video outputs, which can't actually support VGA resolutions.
Future Proof: "Additional enhancements may include [...] new services." Phew, I was worried about the future. But no, the future's awesome: "By 2012, the worldwide video game market is projected to become a $68 billion industry." Yup, from $9.5b in 2007 to $70b in 2012. Only Zeebo allows you to capture a market that will increase in value seven-fold in five years.
Looking for Love: Zeebo is looking for partners who meet these criteria:
- A trusted consumer brand
- Strong relationships with local manufacturers, final assembly and reverse logistics
- Connections to local software developers and content publishers who can bring culturally relevant content to consumers
- A financial track record that would make Zeebo a powerful companion to your brand
And finally, Success: Before they even launch, they're happy to tell you "Zeebo is considered by many publishers as the world's 4th gaming console."
This doesn't look like a Wii Classic Controller