Sony Playstation 3
The biggest downsides for the Playstation 3 are the price (considerably more then its rivals) and the fact that it will only be available in Europe in March 2007. However on the positive side (and what might make it worth waiting for), is that it has a sizeable storage of 60Gb, Blu-ray High definition player, USB ports, memory card slots, built-in wireless broadband connectivity and an internet browser with free access to the Playstation network.
It has a new controller – the Sixaxis and a new interface, very similar to that developed for the PSP handheld gaming console. It also supports interesting connectivity between the PSP and the PS3 pairing them in a unique way. The Network – Sony’s counterpoint to Xbox Live – will feature online gaming and downloadable games (for both the PS3 and the PSP), online chat functionality, internet browsing and music and film downloads. Down the line, Sony will be offering a fine array of added value offerings including the so-called HD EyeToy camera which will allow for video chats, user-created content (think Machinima in HD!), TiVo style television recording and online shopping (with Playstation overlord Ken Kutaragi hinting at virtual shopping malls).Nintendo Wii
Nintendo Wii has played a smart game by being careful not to go head to head with the big players. If it was a mobile phone network, Wii would be 3. It is cheap, cheerful, funky and playing to a distinct demographic. Although it lacks the same integration with its handheld counterpart the Nintendo DS that the Playstaion 3 has with the PSP, it makes up for in terms of its unique and revolutionary Wii remote.
In many ways this is the feature that sets the Nintendo apart from either the Xbox or the Playstation and offers a new gaming experience. It is the kind of feature that will appeal to non-gamers or those who don’t go in for the violent first person type games that tend to define the sector. The Wii controller can allow you to play fishing games or more gentle sporting games. Suprisingly, Microsoft executive Peter Moore in a recent interview even inferred that consumers would buy an Xbox 360 and a Wii – as they are the same price collectively as the PS3.Microsoft Xbox 360
With the advantage of being a year in the market it is hard to say whether Microsoft has eroded Playstation’s share or if they have simply upgraded their own market. With a price point being significantly cheaper then the PS3, the only differential is a slower processor and the absence of a high definition player. However, the latter is available separately – again as a proprietary HD-DVD player. At present, the early arrival of the Xbox 360 has ensured that it offers a wider range of games. The Xbox Live network (although subscription based) is already offering High Definition video downloads in the US and more intriguingly, smaller game downloads which may well open up the market for smaller game developers. Xbox game programming is near identical to the PC programming meaning that the barriers to entry are significantly lower.
So in terms of which console to buy, it really is a case that there is one for everyone in the audience…at a price. It is undeniable that the processing power of the Playstation 3 (which Ian Pearson, Futurologist at BT claims is 1% of the processing power of the human brain) will mean that the PS3 has real capacity to develop over its life span as programmers get to grips with its true potential. Likewise, those wanting to watch High Definition DVDs, you couldn’t ask for a better deal. However, the price conscious and cautious might well opt for the Xbox 360 which at present seems on par technically with the PS3 offering in terms of gaming. The outcome of the High definition wars will mean that Microsoft can offer a Blu-ray player as optional later down the line (although this is unlikely). Finally, for those looking for an alternative gaming experience – or simply are obsessed with the Legend of Zelda – the Wii certainly provides a much more active experience then the thumb and finger workout that the other two consoles offer.