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Who Holds the Better Hand?

4 April 2007

With all next gen consoles released worldwide and sales looking good for each, how can we tell who will be the overall winner? Who will play their cards right and take the pot?

Microsoft was first to ante, releasing the Xbox 360 worldwide in 2005. With a basic line-up of mediocre third party titles and a few good first party games, Microsoft took the lead. With a whole year under its belt, Microsoft had sold nearly 10 million consoles by the time Sony and Nintendo entered the picture. They had also built a great library of games including Gears of War, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Saints Row, and Dead Rising.

Nonetheless, even with a year's lead on the competition, it seems as though their original strategy may need some revamping. With the newest announcement of the "Elite" package, people have been speculating that Microsoft is playing catch up, calling Sony's bet by providing HDMI and a 120GB built in hard-drive. Although, who knows, it may have been Microsoft's plan from the get go.

Now with PS3 exclusives going multiplatform such as Devil May Cry 4 and Unreal Tournament 3 and Microsoft keeping their own exclusives like Bioshock, Fable 2, and Halo 3, they look to be holding the strong hand.

However, we can't forget Nintendo.

Nintendo came out strong with it's creative and innovative platform and controller; the Nintendo Wii. With astonishing sales and the "fun for everyone" attitude the Nintendo Wii could be holding the royal flush of consoles, or could it be the biggest bluff ever?

Released only four months ago, Nintendo has done what it took Microsoft almost a whole year to do. The Wii currently stands at over 6.25 million units sold and shows no sign of slowing down. Although, from many analysts opinions, and a few developers...the Nintendo Wii could be just a fad and within a year's time become a dust collector among homes.

Insomniac's Chief Creative Officer Brian Hastings said, "...I think the Wii is really, really fun... The only downside is that the world is easily distracted. Tickle Me Elmo captured the world’s attention at one point, as did Furbies. They were both instantly accessible, were unlike anything people had seen before, and were fun to share with friends. But a year later, after everyone had seen them and tried them out, their popularity waned."

Another problem the Wii faces is providing games that push the limits beyond what gamers are currently enjoying. How long can gamers endure reiterations of Mario, Zelda, and Metroid? Not only that, but when you launch a next gen system, it's not really "next gen" when developers are already having to cut content and downgrade the graphics from their competitor counterparts.

As for now though, it's too early to tell as Nintendo has its poker face on and probably has a card or two up its sleeve.

The war in the gaming industry is just getting started. Sony has pushed all the chips forward and called "all in", ready to go head to head with all contenders.

Since the announcement of PlayStation 3, there has been foul mouthing widespread flaming about the console and its limits when compared to platforms like the Xbox 360. We glady call these folks fanboys. People can't complain when Sony has shown great sales numbers with all launches in North America, Japan, and Europe. Currently Sony stands at over 3 million consoles sold and climbing.

Outside of Blu-ray, the PlayStation 3 has many great things going for it. To list a few: free online play, 1080p gaming, strong PS2 following, HOME, and great list of upcoming exclusives including MGS4, Ratchet & Clank Future, Final Fantasy XIII, Heavenly Sword, and Killzone.

Then again, with a $600 price tag and many great titles going multiplatform, gamers may not find it worth buying. Third party developers (Capcom and Eidos) have even admitted that it's not as profitable to make platform-exclusive games anymore. Next gen development is so expensive that companies are turning to make all games multiplatform and due to the PS3 entering the race so late, this affects Sony more than Microsoft.

But the winnings are not really up to the companies. It's up to the consumer. What consoles, games, and accessories do you find most appealing? All the chips are on the table and it's up to the gamers to decide who they will support.

So, who would you place your bets on?


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