The Changing Face of 3dfx
|It seems like the entire 3D gaming industry grew up with 3dfx, eventually reaching a point where the term 3dfx almost became household when it came to software requirements. Ever since they set foot in the industry, 3dfx has been a video chipset supplier to third party video card manufacturers, 3dfx had the technology to create the chips, however as a small company they didn't have the power to go out and make their own boards. With the extreme success of the original Voodoo and the Voodoo2, it was time 3dfx did a little expanding.|
The first thing 3dfx decided to go after was a company that would be the sole manufacturer of video cards based on 3dfx chipsets, and after a bit of internal debating, 3dfx's acquisition of graphics card manufacturer, STB, was made public. This of course meant that no other video card manufacturers would be able to produce 3dfx based products, however from 3dfx's point of view, they want to shift into high gear and really make a profit off of their "household" technology. By acquiring STB, they make the 3dfx-dependent market even more dependent upon themselves, by only allowing one manufacturer to produce the boards based on their chipsets. This is good for 3dfx in terms of profit (provided that their chipsets perform and sell as well as they have in the past), unfortunately it can only mean bad news for the consumer, as this makes the 3dfx/STB monster the only provider of 3dfx boards, illustrating a lack of competition that was once present in that particular market; and as you all should probably know by now, a lack of competition is never a good thing for the consumer.
The STB acquisition came at a surprise to quite a large percentage of 3dfx followers, however what 3dfx was about to unveil would probably outweigh the merger in the long run. Imagine this for a moment, you have no knowledge about computer hardware at all, much less any clue as to what 3D accelerator to buy, all you know is that you want to play games, and some kid that looked like he knew what he was talking about suggested that you buy one. If you're walking down the isles of your local Best Buy or CompUSA or where ever you happen to shop for computer goodies and you see the standard 3D accelerator box sitting on a shelf, with every other box looking somewhat alike, you're going to be a bit confused, right? If you have no idea what the techno-babble listed on the front and on the back of the boxes mean then your purchasing decision isn't going to be made any easier if a sales clerk begins to read you the specs right off the box when you ask for help. What if, hypothetically speaking, you were to come across a box that truly stood out? One that failed to conform to the style of a normal computer peripheral's box and took a more unique, and definitely more "household" approach to its presentation. If you were in that position, and saw an item that looked more like something you'd feel comfortable buying rather than something you'd be hiding beneath your arm in the checkout line, you'd most likely pick the former. This very scenario is what 3dfx was worried about, that they would be losing out on the retail end because of the fact that every single video card out there boasts the same old features and the same skewed performance graphs on their boxes. Their solution? Approach the sales of their cards in a manner never experimented with before. 3dfx launched the largest video card ad campaign ever in history, ranging from TV commercials on MTV, Comedy Central, and during the NCAA Basketball Tournament, to a new image for the company. 3dfx hired the artists that designed the album covers for musician, Marilyn Manson, in order to design a brand new look for the 3dfx boxes, setting them apart from the trend the rest of the industry follows. The company also decided to coin a new logo, so the days of the old green 3Dfx emblem are gone and have been replaced with the new age 3dfx mark.
The 3dfx chips themselves will still be manufactured by 3dfx, however the PCB (Printed Circuit Board) they are placed on will come straight from STB's manufacturing plants, and therefore look amazingly similar to STB products of the past.