Next Generation Console Wars
Posted by jgaudiosi :: Industry Trends
Althoough Sony has entered the fray today with its PlayStation 3 and Nintendo launches Wii on Sunday, the real war won't play out until 2007 and beyond when prices drop and hardware is in abundance. Until then, Microsoft will have plenty of Xbox 360s in stock and Sony and Nintendo will continue to rake up record hardware sales for PlayStation 2 and Nintendo DS. Microsoft may have won the first round, thanks to its head start and a large number of 160 Xbox 360 games; but don't count out either Nintendo or Sony when all is said and done.
Sony's done a great job of building the PlayStation brand over the years. According to recent research from Interpret, more consumers are waiting to buy PS3 than either Wii, which came in second, or Xbox 360, which was a distant third. While a large number of PlayStation fans are willing to pay top dollar for the new console, even more are willing to wait a bit for the price to drop. These consumers who are waiting aren't likely to buy an Xbox 360. Instead, the affordable Wii is a definite alternative. I expect there to be many multiplatform homes in this next round of war and the Wii is most likely to be one of them. That leaves consumers to decide between a PS3 and Xbox 360.
Microsoft is clearly in the lead when it comes to this new round, but the fact that PS2 has been outselling Xbox 360 all year long--even after Microsoft flooded the channel with hardware, is not a healthy sign. Of course, that was before "Gears of War" came out--a game that actually lives up to the hype. But I've also been playing a lot of "Resistance: Fall of Man," and that game is the killer app that Sony needed for launching PS3.
Wii has the stronger line-up of launch titles of the new systems. Many of the PS3 games aren't really that different than the Xbox 360 version. But for Wii, most publishers created completely separate games from the ground up to take advantage of the unique controllers. I even love the pack-in "Wii Sports" game. When's the last time a new console shipped with a game? Let alone a good one? And the first and third-party games that are finally starting to reach media members are solid entertainment. Wii has 11 Hollywood-licensed games at launch, as well, which is a record for any console.
Once 2007 rolls around and all three consoles start lining store shelves in plentiful supply around May, the real test will begin. When consumers have a choice of all three consoles, that's when killer apps and exclusive games, as well as strong brand recognition and price point, all play a part in deciding who will win this next generation round.