In this next generation console race, the winner in terms of consoles sold is clearly Nintendo. In terms of software and online content it is Microsoft. As for Sony, their late launch of the PS3 has kept them behind, but they are fast catching Microsoft and may even surpass them by the time the next batch of consoles is released.
For Microsoft and Sony, Nintendo is and isn’t seen as their direct competition. Nintendo have created a unique gaming platform that has appealed to the more casual gamer and to families in general. I hear of so many of my wife’s friends having Wii’s even though they are not gamers. They have either bought them for their young children or because of Wii Fit. Don’t discount the value of Wii Fit to the Wii. It is seen as a gym at home and we all know that weight conscious people would prefer to work out in private. On the one hand this may have taken sales away from Sony and Microsoft, but when you think about it, it probably hasn’t taken much away as the hardcore gamers and even a chunk of the casual ones, would always have chosen between the Xbox 360 and the PS3.
In terms of the next batch of consoles, clearly Nintendo have made enough money off the Wii and their handheld devices to go out on their own again. They were very clever in making a widespread appealing, cheap to make money machine in the Wii.
Microsoft on the other hand, lost money initially on the Xbox 360 due to its manufacturing costs and then later lost a massive amount when they announced an extended warranty for the red rings of death. Yes they were clever in getting out the first High Definition machine that was relatively easy to program for, but manufacturing blunders have made many wonder should they have taken more time to get it right. There is no denying Microsoft have a great online service, but that in itself has its problems. Especially for people in countries like Australia where lag is so common that some Xbox 360 players wonder why they are paying for a Gold membership. You just have to look at the comments by Epic recently saying that they pretty much don’t care if Australia has too much lag, just as long as the Americans are okay. Quite frankly this is where Microsoft should step in and actually implement servers in other countries other than America. This generation of console gaming was meant to be about bringing gamers across the world together. That is simply not happening.
In Sony’s case, when they released the PS3 they claimed it as the centre piece of the living room and a console that would last 10+ years. It may last 10+ years, but it certainly has its fair share of issues. First off, Sony, especially initially, lost a heap of money on the consoles themselves. This was mainly due to the difficulty, and the expense of implementing Blu-ray. Yes, there may not be as many dead consoles as has been reported for the Xbox 360, but Sony has taken a long time in the PS3’s life to get their online service, the Playstation Network, to be anywhere near the quality of Xbox Live. There is also the lag issue, although Sony has actually had some of their developers put servers here in Australia which was a good move. Including Blu-ray into the console has really only meant one thing for Sony, winning the HD movie war. Yes, it certainly moved PS3’s, but in the PS3’s early life, all Sony cared about was beating HD DVD. This left the gamers without many good games, especially compared to the 360’s lineup. It also meant that the PS3 was at a very high price point which was inaccessible to a lot of Playstation fans and gamers alike. It is still at a high price point, but it has come down to a much more acceptable level, especially considering it does contain a Blu-ray player.
As the current economic climate is looking very bleak for everyone in the world at the moment, the question has to be asked; Is there enough room for 3+ machines in the next batch of consoles? When you consider that 90% of the games that are released on the Xbox 360 and PS3 are multiplatform and are of almost identical quality, wouldn’t it be better if Nintendo did their own thing by introducing even more innovative products and Sony and Microsoft merged to produce one super HD console? Think of the things they could do if they put their heads together.
· They could merge the best of both online services to create the ultimate online gaming and entertainment content service.
· The developers would only have to take the time making games for 1 or 2 consoles, not 3. This would save them money and better direct their resources into making better games.
· In terms of downloadable movies, the consumer would have access to everything as there would be no taking sides.
· Making one HD console would also mean that consumers would only have to buy one machine instead of two in order to play the Sony and MS exclusives.
· This would also benefit Microsoft and Sony as they wouldn’t need as many personnel and they would have more money collectively to put into it without their money resources being stretched. After all it has been publicized about how many people Sony and Microsoft have had to put off since the economic downturn started.
Although this may never actually happen, when you think about it, it makes sense, especially in the way the world’s financial state at the moment.
Article Written by Craig Cirillo.