Envizions Announces 3-D Online Community for Linux Game Console
I have a confession: When I read press releases about Envizions' EVO Smart Console I am unsure if the company is run by self-assured, confident visionaries or if -- well, the situation is actually quite the opposite. I like (love?) the idea of an open source, Linux-powered gaming console. I like the potential it holds, the almost limitless features it could deliver, the creativity it could inspire.
I know that bringing hardware to market is rough, and that sometimes things get bogged down in regulatory processes and unexpected red tape. I know that balancing what you want to sell, what you want to deliver, and what your customers want, expect and request can be tricky. A company needs to hold on to its dreams and ideals -- and it needs to bring in cash in order to make those dreams and ideals happen.
It isn't easy, especially when you're selling something that isn't even at the "early adopter" stage. It's impossible to say if Envizions is going about this in the most logical manner -- it's uncharted territory. This is why Envizion's announcement of a 3-D online community (think Second Life) leaves me feeling even more conflicted about the EVO open source game console than ever.
All right, another confession -- when I read the press release about EVO's community, called "My Universe," I shuddered violently enough to shake the couch and scare the small dog sitting beside me. This has been done before (Sony's Home for the PS3, for instance) and, well, the results have been pretty mixed. Okay, fine, "mixed" might be putting it far too gently -- just ask those involved in Google's Lively experiment.
I realize that maybe, in the EVO's case, this might not be a fair assumption. Do I have some reservations? Definitely. But when you consider that this is an online world where, at least in the mid-range future, users will mostly consist of open source developers sharing ideas and hashing out concepts, differences, and development details -- it probably isn't an inherently bad idea to have an environment set up specifically for the platform and its user base to bring the concept further. It actually makes a good deal of sense -- a lot more sense, even, than having such a service on a platform such as the PS3.
The difficulty that "My Universe" will face is the same difficulty the EVO itself will grapple with -- there just aren't a whole lot of machines, or a whole lot of developers working with it. I can't imagine that the announcement of this online community will draw in a whole new user demographic. I can't even imagine it will sway those on the fence about picking the hardware up and tinkering with it. I'm betting it will be a welcome resource (and even a fun feature to play with) for those who have already -- or have solid plans to -- purchase the EVO system.
A Linux based, open source gaming console isn't so far fetched anymore. I am not sure that the EVO Smart Console will be the one that makes it happen. Perhaps the EVO's biggest contribution to Linux game consoles will be that it was the first to discover the mistakes -- and correct things to do -- when designing open game consoles. I'm willing to guess that a virtual community, in this setting especially, won't fall into the "mistake" category.