Look, have we ever had a non-government-mandated single platform of anything in a competitive industry like the videogame market?
We can't agree on how to represent newlines in text files, much less agree on a common hardware platform.
Um... I don't think vinyl records, CDs, VHS or DVD were government-mandated, but the music and movie industries seem to have settled on a single platform each hardware generation. After a bit of competition of course, viz BetaMax and Laserdisc, the industry settled on a single format. That, or they built an all-in-one player, such as the eventual vinyl record players that had speed selectors to be compatible with all record formats. I'd settle for that, an all-in one box that played games from all current videogame platforms.
Paul Atredies (sp?) --
Not sure how many ways I can disagree.
First off, you're confusing format with platform as used in the original article. If you'd read the fine article, this would be more clear. Did we all purchase RCA VHS players? GE? Sony? Don't think so. And each implementation of VHS had its own version of LP (or whatever the format was that put the most playtime on a single cassette). The media was the same, but even the format changed.
I'd also say that even if the gov't didn't pick the eventual winners in the format wars, they didn't have any compunction about weighing in on the winning format's eventual implementation. Here's one example. Check out this part...
VHS format analog video cassette recorder unless such recorder conforms to the automatic gain control copy control technology;
So I'd be careful that I didn't claim the formats weren't government mandated. That's not entirely accurate, depending on how you slice it.
From the article, I'm surprised a bit to hear the overly-simplistic version of what publishers want. Do they want platform exclusives? You better believe it. Think they like including marginally different features so that you "have" to buy more than one platform's version of each game? Sure.
What they don't like is the resources required to port games. They'd be all about creating one codebase that'd run on three different platforms if pressed.