128-bit game consoles have PC makers worried

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128-bit game consoles have PC makers worried

The launch of next-generation 128-bit game machines may spell trouble for the PC industry, as leading PC game publishers weigh switching platforms and reallocating their development dollars.

The first blow will land next Thursday with Sega’s planned U.S. launch of Dreamcast, the first console to feature 128-bit processing power. Sony and Nintendo plan to release their own 128-bit systems in the fall of 2000.

The forthcoming Sony system may represent the biggest threat to the status quo, according to programmers and artists who have seen prototypes. Tentatively called the PlayStation 2, it promises visual quality approaching that of motion pictures.

Even hard-core PC developers are being seduced over to the Sony platform, according to Activision CEO Bobby Kotick.

Brett Sperry, president of Electronic Arts Inc.’s Westwood Studios division, concurs. “The Sony system is going to be so sweet. It’s now the coolest thing around for programmers.”

Sony announced its machine in March and began distributing prototype systems to developers this month. It will disclose its key game publishing partners Sept. 17.

PC makers are feeling the pressure. “We’re painfully aware we have to make the PC better,” says Intel games “evangelist” Jason Rubinstein.

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