It's common knowledge that the Christmas holidays are very important for boosting market sales. This also applies to the gaming industry, as Paul Hochman of Today notes. He writes that the big three console makers will be having some problems this holiday season, facing their "biggest shakeup in years," due to some deficiencies on each console maker's part.

For the Xbox 360, Hochman cites its persistent problem of product malfunctions - the now-infamous Red Ring of Death - something that Microsoft is scrambling to fix with an allocated US$ 1 billion budget and an extended 3-year-warranty. Microsoft also advised customers to wait at least one week while their console is being repaired.

In Nintendo Wii's case, all seems peachy for the console. However, there's one spot that Nintendo hasn't managed to fully fix, and that's undersupply.

With an almost chronic case of undersupply, the quest for a Nintendo Wii usually involves the following inconveniences: queuing up in long lines in Best Buy once a fresh stock becomes available, getting overpriced Wiis on eBay, and limiting the allowance of sales to one console per buying group. This problem has prompted an apology from Nintendo's CEO Satoru Iwata, who promised to use Nintendo's Mario video game factory for Wii production.

Finally, Hochman cited the PS3's current underperformance, saying that Sony's PS3 trailed behind and sold only about 90,000 units in June, compared to Xbox 360's 198,000 and the Wii's strong 435,000. He also mentioned that Sony loses about US$ 300 every time a PS3 console is sold, with the total estimated loss of US$ 2 billion for the fiscal year that ended in March.

For those wondering why Sony is willing to take such losses, there is a reason behind that: According to Hochman, when Sony's Blu-ray wins the format wars and becomes the sought-after format for home viewing - partly with the help of the PS3 - then the PS3 losses will be more than worth it.

Despite these problems, we all know that true gamers couldn't be deterred from buying their favorite consoles by these 'minor' details. To help people decide on which one to buy, Hochman enumerated the good in each console:

Xbox 360

* Has some of the most popular game series, which include Madden, Grand Theft Auto, and Halo
* Can connect to the internet using Wi-Fi, and also has a built-in ethernet port
* Plays DVDs, CDs, and can work with your personal MP3 music collection.


* Innovative control scheme
* Emphasis on party and casual gaming
* The undersupply is an indicator on how well the Ninty console is doing


* State-of-the-art hardware
* Built-in ultra high definition Blu-ray player
* Above-average networking capability
* 60GB unit now only US$ 499