9:06 PM

Console Wars: Return of the Gamer

Neal (Iie) Trotter

The new generation of console gaming is approaching with mixed reception, the majority of it being negative. The Xbox 360 has arrived first opening up the battlefield of next-gen consoles, and it has faced both the positives and negatives of being on the frontlines. Although ultimately establishing itself with a huge business advantage by releasing months ahead of the competition, Microsoft hurt its fan-base immensely by its inadequate console launch. The Playstation 3 (scheduled for release in November) is the technological giant of the wars with its multicore CPU and multiple DVD platform support; although it’s high price range could very well topple this giant. The Nintendo Revolution (scheduled for a summer release) is targeted to appeal to a general audience with it’s user friendly controller featuring revolutionary radar technology and lower price, but the same revolutionary technology it’s using might very well turn out too unorthodox and turn away gamers. Each system is coming in the fray of battle with its own potential strengths and weaknesses and it will be the gamers who decide the victor.
Many economic analysts believe that since Microsoft has established itself so ahead of its competition by its early Xbox 360 release, it will remain ahead of sales during both PS3 and Revolution releases. Microsoft has given itself around half a year’s head start until the next next-gen console is scheduled to release. Microsoft Xbox Live has revolutionized online video gaming for the better and the Xbox 360 has refined its online setup even more with new ways to communicate and interact with other players. Games like Call of Duty 2 and Perfect Dark Zero offer exhilarating and intensive gameplay, although other games like Kameo and Full Auto prove repetitive and unimaginative, and games like Burnout and Madden are just revisions of previous installments. It will have quite awhile to establish its fan-base, or more appropriately try to rekindle the relationship it has with its current fan-base. Short supply of systems and poor marketing has angered many gamers. Many gamers who have preordered an Xbox 360 didn’t receive one until weeks or even months after their scheduled pick up. And those who didn’t preorder only now are beginning to finally have a chance at buying one, four months after initial launch. Just like the original Xbox, most of the Xbox 360 games still appeal mainly to an American audience which is hurting sales in other countries. Even though Microsoft has said it would not make the same mistakes it did with its original Microsoft launch, the company has actually repeated these mistakes even more so.
Sony’s strategy, with its Playstation 3, is to win over gamers with superior technology. Although Sony is pretty quiet about the specific PS3 specs, what is confirmed is that the PS3 will feature multiple processors and advanced Cell CPU which will basically allow more things and actions to happen during gameplay. For example: When walking in a city more people will be interacting with other people, walking and talking, automobile traffic will be more realistic, city lights will operate independently from each other; play experience will feel more like an actual city. The PS3 will also support Blue-ray technology. This format enables recording, rewriting and playback of high-definition video (HD), as well as storing large amounts of data. The format offers more than five times the storage capacity of traditional DVDs and can hold up to 25GB on a single-layer disc and 50GB on a dual-layer disc. This extra capacity combined with the use of advanced video and audio codecs will offer consumers an unprecedented HD experience. Video games will have more immense environments at higher resolutions. Grand Theft Auto San Andres had a play environment the size of a county, with Blue-ray these environments could now be the size of a state. All of this superior technology comes at a price however, many US economic analyst predict the PS3 will retail above $400 at launch. Blue-ray technology affects the price of the software as well. Xbox 360 games are already $60. Will PS3 games be even higher? The PS3 has some strong titles ready for launch, including Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Unreal Tournament 2007, and Medal of Honor: Airborne. Although analyst might possibly be wrong, it seems that the success of PS3 will be determined by whether consumers will be willing to pay more for better technology.
Nintendo has always taken a different approach to gaming than the norm. Some approaches were successful (like Nintendo’s decision to stay with the cartridge format with Nintendo 64 and Nintendo DS’ dual screen technology) some were also failures (the Virtual Boy and the Super Scope 6). Nintendo has always been a company that takes risks by staying true to its philosophy of family and friend interaction through gaming. Arguably one of Nintendo’s biggest risks lies within its new controller for its next-gen system, the Nintendo Revolution. The controller can operate like a remote control, featuring radar technology, which allows the player to play by moving the controller appropriately to offer a more interactive experience. Imagine instead of pushing a button to make Link slash his sword you move the controller in a slashing motion. If you’re playing a baseball game you would swing the controller like a baseball bat to hit the ball instead of pushing buttons. This type of interactivity has gotten mixed reactions from the public. Many game developers are excited about the new play mechanics they will be able to create with this type of controller. However a large amount of the gaming public is turned off by this form of play, viewing it as ridiculous and unnecessary. Although Nintendo wants to attract people who don’t usually play video games, this type of gameplay might very well intimidate them away from their games even further. But another positive note is that the controller has a simpler scheme and less buttons than its previous controllers potentially making game control simpler which is appealing to the public. Also the controller is reminiscent of Nintendo’s 1985 NES controller attracting gamers nostalgically. Nintendo has also pledged that the Revolution will sell under $300 which could very well win over the public since price is a major factor. Making the Revolution even more attractive is its launch title line-up, which features Metroid Prime 3, Super Smash Bros. 3, and a new Super Mario platformer (Nintendo saying Mario will return to its roots, gameplay wise). All of these factors make Nintendo a prime competitor in the console wars. Although Nintendo is taking a gamble with its controller, it might very well exceed everyone’s expectations as the underdog.
Video game console wars are always interesting to watch. The first face off was the Atari and the Odyssey. Atari rising from that showdown later fell by the hands of the Nintendo Entertainment System. The NES went on, over the Sega Master System. Yet the Sega Genesis slightly toppled the Super Nintendo, the Super Nintendo overall remained victorious. When the Sony Playstation entered the playing field Nintendo finally met its match and its Nintendo 64 couldn’t quite keep up. Sega finally dropped out the console wars completely with the failure of the Sega Dreamcast, it was not until the success of Microsoft’s Xbox that a third company competed with giants Nintendo and Sony. The Sony Playstation 2 still remained the leader while the Nintendo Gamecube began to see the position of third place in this three way war. Now with the Xbox 360, the Playstation 3 and the Revolution, it will be very interesting to see how it all plays out and who comes out the victor. Ultimately, it is really up to gamers to determine the outcome. Let the battle begin!

2 comments:

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kiwigran said...

Hi there. Thanks for the nice comments about my blog. I got the template from blogspot - didn't do anything to it. You asked me to comment about yours - it looks a little plain. Maybe jazz it up a bit with Animes etc. I dont know too much about gaming cos I am way too old so can't comment about the content. Cheers, kiwigran

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