I’m writing this from the perspective of a Brit who grew up in the 1980s, with Mario and Zelda, and doesn’t claim to be an industry insider. What I am is a fan who has spent a lot of money and many hours with many game consoles, so I hope to represent his target market and give insight from the point of view of sheep being plucked.
Everyone has heard of Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii. Those are the current generation of video game consoles fighting for the supremacy of the video game market. They are the products of industry heavyweights Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo respectively. First of all, let’s take a quick look at all the consoles.
The Nintendo Wii came out around the same time as the PS3 (so it’s second only to the Xbox 360). It’s cheap to make, cheap to buy, and seems to be the top earner of the 3 consoles. We see signs in stores all the time saying the Wii is out of stock, even though it came out 2 years ago. Nintendo’s key strategy is to focus on fun games that can attract the highest audience (hence attracting female gamers as well) and stay away from the battle for graphics power. Its flagship application is motion detection, giving it a sublimely innovative edge over everything else in the entertainment industry.
The PlayStation 3 is the latest console from Sony after the phenomenal success of its PlayStation and PS2. It’s the biggest, sleekest, and (seemingly) most powerful console out there. It’s all about graphics power, blu-ray and high definition.
The Xbox 360 is Microsoft’s second attempt at the video game market. From what I’ve read, Microsoft intended the first Xbox to really be the gateway to the market, so they were prepared to invest as much money as it took just to get established. Their real weapon was always going to be the Xbox 360. Well, they certainly seem to have met most of the conventional (and tediously obvious) goals: First to market, very powerful, most games.
So how can we define the winning parameters? When it comes to money, surely the Wii is the most profitable. But that would be a very short-term view. The underlying intent of Sony and MS is to put a device in our living rooms that is a gateway to other future revenue streams. Obviously, it will be multimedia content, downloadable movies, social networks, electronic purchases, etc.
The PS3 can play Blu-Ray movies and is supposed to be the most powerful, but it’s been around a while now and games don’t seem to look any better than they do on the Xbox 360. It costs £300 compared to £130 for the Xbox 360 plus. cheap, which is a big difference. It doesn’t have as many games and I’m a little sick of the same controller as on the original Playstation. It’s still great though and is probably the most prestigious of the 3.
The Xbox 360 was released at least a year before the others. That gave them a huge advantage, however they cut corners and had to pay many billions to replace faulty hardware (the “3 Rings of Death”). It’s not a beautiful machine and it can’t do anything special.
But here we are talking about games. These are gaming machines and it’s all about the games. Nintendo once again taunted us to no end and then delivered very little more than a small trickle. The PS3 spaceship landed and then tried to invade with a fleet of underwhelming third-party titles, then a second wave of games also coming out on its main rival. The Xbox 360 is likely to break down, it’s ugly as sin and made by the most staunchly dated company, but damn it’s cheap and has so many good games. I’m surprised PS3 game graphics don’t look much better than Xbox 360, and while that may change over time as developers learn to master the machine, by then Microsoft may have released a new one. console anyway.
They’ve invested a lot of cash, marketed it in every possible way, and taken as many major developers as they could. Because of that, they probably have the best value console out there with the best games. There may not be a great application, it may not be the best, but in my opinion, the Xbox 360 has won this battle. Nintendo may decide to try to put out enough games to reach the huge potential of the Wii, though from past experience that won’t happen (they seem to trust Shigeru Miyamoto too much, and there’s only 1 of him). Sony seems to have become obsessed, or turned to the dark side along the way, or something. I’m not going to waste time thinking of a way for you to win this, but you better hurry because in a couple of years it will be time for a new generation to emerge whether you like it or not.