Console Wars July

By Mike on 10:52 am

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If there is one piece of tech news that's dominated 2006, its the game console wars between the PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii.

According to the NPD, a US based marketing firm, the PS3 sold 159,000 consoles, up 60% from the previous month. Its claimed that the $100 price drop for the 60gb model was the primary reason of this. The Wii still topped at 425,000 units sold. The Xbox 360 took second with 170,000 sold.

The Wii is still the most popular console in the world, selling more units than the Xbox 360 in the same time period. Shortages are still being reported. In fact, the only place I've ever seen Wiis on the shelf was at a Costco on just one occasion. No major electronics stores are carrying them. Apparently, they're all sold as soon as they come in. At $279, its the cheapest console. The Wii itself is signaling a shift in gaming demographics. Graphics quality is no longer as big a concern as innovative gameplay. In my opinion, I think people are looking for games that are just fun rather than the overly complex, overly serious graphical wonders that have been coming out in recent years.

Sony is also moving in a new direction with the PS3. In the past few months, they've been trying to position it as more of an all-in-one home entertainment unit rather than a video game. Such tactics have been met with only limited success in the past. I believe this new marketing tactic is to change people's perception regarding the high price. Most people think its $559 price tag is too much for a video game. Sony has had mixed success using this tactic when it comes to the PSP. Such so that the PSP has become so distanced from its chief rival, the DS, that comparing the two is like comparing apples and oranges. I'd say they've done the same with the PS3. It's become impossible to compare it to the Wii since the two are just so different. I'd knock the PS3 out of the console wars simply because its now difficult to even classify it as a console. In fact, I think home theater PC is a more accurate definition of what the PS3 is.

Then there's the Xbox 360. The 360's sales have been declining, down from 198,000 in May according to NPD. I expect this is mostly because people are waiting for the fall to get the consoles since that's when the new and cooler 65nm processors are due out. Summer is a slow season for gaming anyway. November to January is when sales pick up due to Christmas and Boxing Day sales. I think the 360's reputation as being a lemon is really hurting it, especially considering the price cuts and increased warranty didn't do anything to budge sliding sales. The 360 has also tried to grapple onto the media center concept. As I said in my review, the 360's media capabilities are nothing to phone home about. It's cluttered GUI also hurts it in terms if media, especially when you compare it to the clean and easy to use GUI that the PS3 uses. If we were to compare game consoles to cars, I'd say the 360 is the minivan of consoles. It's a big thing that does a lot of things. Everyone has one. It performs its job ok but underneath, it's a piece of crap. The PS3 is like your luxury sedan. Packed with features, runs great but expensive. The Wii is your sports car. It's a fun toy and is purposely designed to do one thing exceptionally well.

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