The war for your livingroom

In 2000 Sony took the world by storm with the release of Playstation 2, the gaming platform that undoubtedly brought gaming the closest it has ever been to being mainstream. With over 106 million units shipped by June 2006, it is no wonder Sony is sitting at the top of the hill.

Microsoft was determined to not let Sony get such an edge on the market and vowed to release the successor to the Xbox, the Xbox 360, before Playstation 3. To that extent, they were successful, with the release of their technological brainchild last November.

On the other hand, Kaz Hirai, SCEA’s chief executive, claims, “The next generation does not start until we say it does,” which would be Nov. 17, the system’s launch date.

Despite its less-than-stellar sales performance with the Gamecube, Nintendo is still very much in the picture and plans to release the Wii next month, on Nov. 19. This hi-tech showdown could prove to be quite a sight as the two long time rivals duke it out for holiday season supremacy.

The Xbox 360’s year lead on the competition, coupled with its impressive upcoming lineup, including Gears of War and Call of Duty 3, will likely prove to be a winning combination for Microsoft, who very well may come out on top this year in terms of gross sales. Nintendo and Sony, however, are taking steps to combat this, in their own unique ways.

Nintendo has gone on record by stating that they are not directly competing with Sony and Microsoft, but one would not get that notion by the blitz they have planned for their release.

The Japanese grandfather of gaming has said that it plans to ship one million units on the day of release, more than double the amount of PS3s Sony plans to ship on day one (400,000).

The system will have a price tag of $249.99, a cost that seems almost too good to be true compared to the Xbox 360’s $299.99/$399.99 and the PS3’s $499.99/$599.99 price points. To make the deal even more attractive, Nintendo is throwing in a copy of Wii Sports, a Nintendo developed suite of arcade-like sports games ranging from boxing to baseball.

Although, technologically, the Wii does not hold a candle to either one of its competitors, it does have the prettiest packaging, figuratively speaking.

The unorthodox direction Nintendo is taking with the motion sensor Wii remote is something only a company with nothing to lose and everything to gain would come up with. Price conscious consumers who waltz into their local Wal-Mart or Best Buy will undoubtedly flock to the cheaper Wii when they see the cost of the PS3, if they see a PS3 at all. It is estimated that on launch day there will be roughly three to four PS3s for every Gamestop/EB Games, and it is rumored that employees get first pick.

The two systems cater to entirely different audiences. Sony is targeting the hardcore gamers because they are aware that only the most hardcore of gamers will shell out $600 for a gaming system. The system is outfitted with the most cutting edge technology, much like the Xbox 360, and likewise sports a heftier price tag. The Wii on the other hand is more along the lines of a souped up Gamecube in terms of power, but offers a great price because of that and introduces an innovative new form of gameplay.

The choice ultimately falls upon the consumer. Journalists and analysts are torn between the two. Many believe the Playstation brand will pull it through the season, provided Sony is not subjected to system shortages, which although they claimed will not happen, they are extraordinarily prone to. What Nintendo, on the other hand, will do, is hope that parents will turn away from the PS3’s price tag and find the Wii a more desirable choice.

What happens this holiday season between the Wii, PS3, and Xbox 360 could very well act as an indication for the coming years. Holiday 2006 will be the first season all three next generation consoles will be available on the market and none of the competitors are going to allow another to get any headway. It is going to be war, and it is all to claim domination of your living room.