Pundits Ponder Another Holiday Console War

Dennis Faas's picture

Last year there were few hotter items than the world's newest video game consoles, the Sony PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii. Both launched in November, both were highly anticipated, and both instigated massive line-ups that inevitably led to some profane language and marked frustration. This year, the dynamics of the console war have certainly changed.

It may surprise our readers to hear that many gaming critics are now predicting a big season for Sony. For the last year, the PlayStation 3 has been stuck in a distant third position behind Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Nintendo's Wii, despite real efforts -- the most notable being price drops -- to save the console's sinking ship.

Last year, the PlayStation's problem -- exasperating shortages -- were Nintendo's gain. Although the Wii wasn't exactly available in every 'mom and pop' gaming store, its numbers made it a slightly easier purchase than the highly elusive PS3. A combination of frustration with Sony and admiration of the Wii's unique approach to gaming set the stage for 2007 and Nintendo's resurgence in the gaming world.

However, the Wii -- given its current place on the Christmas lists of so many kids, teens, and adults alike -- makes it the rare bird, even today. Nintendo has struggled all year to meet demand, leading semi-experts at ABC to speculate that it could mean a big holiday season for Sony and its PlayStation 3, widely available and finally ready to shine.

Still, Nintendo is determined to fight against the current and get as many Wiis on the market as possible. Vice president of marketing and corporate affairs for Nintendo of America Perrin Kaplan recently told ABC News, "I've been at Nintendo a long time, and I have never seen us ramp our numbers up so many times, nor have we ever produced so much of any console...But the demand has just so far exceeded our expectations. It's fabulous. We want consumers to know that we're completely aware, love them for it." (Source: abcnews.com)

Unfortunately, few Nintendo fans seem to appreciate the good feelings. Most believe that the Wii's first birthday -- as it and the PS3 recently celebrated -- should have been marked by a flood of hardware. Kaplan's response is hardly reassuring: "Those who haven't been able to find it -- just hang in there. We're moving stuff into retail as fast as we can." (Source: mtv.com)

Is the PS3 ready for prime time?

It may. With a $100 price cut, at the very least it is an affordable Blu-ray high definition DVD player. However, unlike last year it now boasts a stronger game library catering to the hardcore player, with titles like Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Assassin's Creed now available. Unfortunately, those titles and more are also available on the Xbox 360, which has so far trumped Sony's attempt to win back the gaming market's older and most devoted crowd.

Still, the PS3 has enough promise -- let's not forget Sony's history here -- to make it a very cool (and very big) present this holiday season.

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