- This generation console war is still finely in the balance. Sure, the Wii is way out in front, while the PS3 and Xbox 360 trade positions on a monthly basis, but with a long way to go, I still feel it's anyone's market.
So what will swing it for one of the consoles? What will make the all-important mainstream consumer choose one over the other and take it on to victory?
While some of us have owned and played a next generation console for two to three years, we are the early adopters, the hardcore gamers (except for Wii owners) who want the latest and greatest system to experience our hobby on. And generally, although price may be a slight concern, we're willing to pay through the nose for that cutting-edge experience.
But with prices dropping and this generation of consoles moving in to the second phase, the general populous are entering the fray and choosing their games system to replace the last-gen console they have been happy with for the past few years. The question remains: what will influence their buying decisions?
I feel this generation has given consumers a real choice that no other generation has quite managed:-
The PS3 is a powerful games console that Sony has also tried to develop in to something more: a multimedia living room hub offering the Internet and Blu-ray as well as games.
The Xbox 360 is also a powerful games console, but doesn't have quite such big ambitions in becoming an all-encompassing entertainment behemoth. But it does arguably offer more to core gamers than any other console, and its online capabilities are awesome.
Then there's the Wii, which offers cruddy last-gen graphics but a control system that appeals to all and which appeals to people of all ages. And at a very low price.
Sony, by way of an interview Sony Marketing and Public Relations Manager Mark Levitan has given to Here NB, is still pushing the multimedia functions, with Blu-ray being declared as likely to be a decisive factor in helping people choose their next-gen games console.
Levitan said: "Functionality is kind of hand in hand with price - you have to say to yourself, if you've bought an HDTV, 1080p resolution is important to you so maybe you want a Blu-ray player. If that's something you're considering, then obviously you're going to pick a PS3.
You can go to any chain store and pick up a Blu-ray player but for an extra 100 bucks, you can get a PS3. You get something that not only plays the best games but you can surf the Internet with it, download all your pictures to it, or listen to music. I think that functionality will separate us from our competition."
The man does have a point but he's assuming that most people will actually want a Blu-ray player, which is hardly a known fact at this moment in time. And if Sony stakes everything on Blu-ray, and ignores the benefits of cutting the price of the console instead, I fear the console will find itself remaining in third place for the rest of time.