November 13, 2006 4:00 AM PST

Game on: PS3, Wii finally hitting stores

After 18 months of hype, the three-party, next-generation video game console war is finally upon us.

For longer than many would care to remember, the video game industry has been all but consumed with speculation about which of the three new consoles--Microsoft's Xbox 360, Sony's PlayStation 3 or Nintendo's Wii--would become top dog.

The Xbox 360 has had the run of the field, since it hit stores a year ago. But now the game is finally on. The PS3 made its debut in Japan on Saturday and it will hit North American stores Friday at 12:01 a.m. EST. Sony executives have boasted that some gamers have already started lining up to buy the new console. Two days later, at 12:01 a.m. EST Sunday, the Wii goes on sale.

So which console will come out on top? Many believe the real winners in the console wars will be consumers, as they will have more top-shelf choices than ever before. But some industry experts think Sony, despite a high price, will once again be the leader among the 150 million or so consoles analysts at DFC Intelligence predict will be sold in the next six to eight years.

"At the end of the decade, which is to say, midlife of this console generation, Sony will be first, with Nintendo battling Microsoft for second," said Richard Doherty, president of the analyst firm Envisioneering.

There's a big caveat to this prediction of Sony's continued console dominance: The top-end PS3 will cost $599, while the premium Xbox 360 runs $399. The Wii will cost $250. So Sony will have to overcome a major pricing disadvantage.

Doherty thinks it will. He bases his prediction on several factors: First, PS3 can play all old PS2 and PlayStation games, while the Xbox 360 plays many--but not all--original Xbox games.

PlayStation 3

Second, Microsoft could alienate retailers if it cannot meet demand--as he expects--for its new Xbox 360 add-on: an HD DVD player that costs $199. Microsoft said the device, which had a mid-November launch target, has already began slowly trickling into retailers and will continue to do so over the next week or so.

But after putting retailers in an awkward position last fall with Xbox shortages, Doherty said, Microsoft could really tick them off with another supply snafu.

"If there aren't enough HD DVD players," Doherty said, "it's going to be a situation of retailers saying, 'The heck with this.'" Of course, many worry Sony could run into the same supply issue with the PS3, which features a Blu-ray high-definition DVD player.

A bigger pie?
So what about Nintendo's Wii, the low-cost alternative with a considerable amount of buzz among gamers because of its motion-sensor technology?

"The (Wii) controller is just so innovative and so new and exciting in terms of what it can do for gamers in general," said Nick Earl, vice president and general manager at gamemaker Electronic Arts' Redwood Shores, Calif., studio. "I think that's going to really play in (Nintendo's) favor."

If (Nintendo) is able to expand the pie, "and we think they can, and bring new folks who are not the traditional gamer into this business, that's a fantastic thing for everybody in the industry," said Scott Steinberg, vice president of marketing at Sega. "Their strategy has been one that's more inclusive and less exclusive in potentially bringing families together to play, rather than just the older son."

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Video: Nintendo Wii rumor check

But Steinberg also recognizes that Sony's marketing machine and international reach are daunting.

"From an international standpoint, you can't deny the power of the Sony brand," he said. "On a global basis, they are the No. 1 brand."

One executive at Electronic Arts, the biggest game title producer in the world, said Sony has a strong hand.

"Despite the fact that Sony and the Wii (are) a year behind the Xbox 360, we feel that that's just going to be a rounding error in the long run. It's really year two to six where you get to volume," Earl said.

Sony's history shows it is a force that cannot be taken lightly, he added.

"Sony is a powerhouse," Earl said. "They're so strong, with great marketing and a great machine. I just don't personally feel, and EA doesn't feel, that (Microsoft's headstart) is going to be a handicap for (Sony) in the long run."

In an interview in May, Sony Computer Entertainment of America co-Chief Operating Officer Jack Tretton told CNET News.com that his company has to stick to its knitting to stay on top.

"We have to do just what we've done in the past," Tretton said, referring to Sony's domination of the video game industry since 2000 with its PlayStation and PS2 consoles. "You have to have the best system at the end of the day. You have to have the consumer's confidence, and you have to have a pureness of vision, in terms of the way you execute your strategy."

For its part, Microsoft thinks that it is in an enviable position.

"We've had a full year head start and we intend to take full advantage of it," said Peter Moore, a Microsoft corporate vice president and head of the Xbox team. "We've announced we've crested the 6 million (units shipped) mark, and we fully expect to hit our number of 10 million sold by the end of December."

Moore added that Microsoft execs believe they have another edge because, all told, there will be 160 games available for Xbox 360 by Christmas and that the Xbox Live online service has signed up more than 4 million users. That said, some in the industry think Microsoft's headstart won't mean much over time, even though Sony is for now holding off on a European launch.

Of course, it's possible that the next-generation console market could be split evenly three ways, said David Cole, president of DFC Intelligence. But he said the more likely scenario is the market splitting 50-25-25.

In that scenario, Cole said, even if it can't match the 70 percent market share the PS2 enjoyed, "You have to say Sony's still the favorite."

See more CNET content tagged:
Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Co. Ltd., console, Microsoft Xbox, video game console

36 comments

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Same games, better graphics
People voted with their wallets, and offering new versions of mostly the same games is what seem to be paying the bills.

Last time they cost $50 each, this time $60, and soon $70.

Do I think this generation will buck the trend? Nope.

I few of us will defect to the Wii, but the PS3 is going to be popular even if they sold it for $800/unit.

The good news is that even if the Wii does get only 25%, that is 25% of a huge chunk of change and enough money for them to stay in the game.

The current main stream games will always be mainstream, but I really do like how Nintendo prioritizes "fun to play" before "realistic looking".

Successful ideas will eventually make their way out into the more mainstream games.
Posted by Dachi (797 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The gaming industry...
Nintendo did make an interesting move. Since the launch of the N64 and the PS, the "console war" has been about raw power and game selection. With their "cheaper" move, Nintendo has more or less given the Playstation the title of over hyped processing power. They have instead stuck to what they do best, that being entertaining games and good solid consoles the run those games well. SO there won't be much better graphics than the GameCube... ya know.. it runs my games I want it to run just fine. Now if Nintendo would just make all their consoles backwards compatible like Sony, we could all be a lot happier. I personly don't care all the much for "great graphics" and all the other mess... a fun game is a fun game. I still play my Nintendo and all of the old titles I have for it because the games haven't lost their fun factor even over almost 20 years.
Posted by ServerMonkey+FarmBoy (29 comments )
Link Flag
And about HD
Also, if you don't have a HDTV I just don't see the point of shelling out $1,000 for a console and like 2 games.

For good graphics I could just skip the PS3 and roll some of the savings into my next PC upgrade.

But I don't know what I am talking about.

Most people think becasue the $60 TV they bought at Walmart 3 years back is an HDTV becasue it came with a "HD ready" sticker which just means it will let you view your high end HD resolution at its low end crappy resolution.

This is a little bit like spending the extra money for a camera with a "10MP" sticker just to compress the images down to make thumbnails.
Posted by Dachi (797 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Nintendo
Honestly I'd vote for Nintendo.

To hell the HD. To hell the advanced gaming. To hell that advanced graphics and visual effects.

What's the point of all the cool stuff if games are dull?

I have stopped playing PC games about 4 years ago. NWN1 was my last game. And never looked back - no decent games materialized since then.

Then just for sake of experiment I bought myself Nintendo DS Lite with Tetris and Pac-Man. I was STUNNED to discover that there is still an oasis in gaming industry - Nintendo - which didn't forgotten that games has to be *FUN* and *ENJOYABLE*.

Gosh, Xbox360 was out whole year. And? M$ bought whole PC gaming industry - and what?? No single good and funny game ever materialized. And the Prey still crashes the console. The story repeats with PSP: no single game worth my precious spare time, no single game I can take with me on road (like I do with Tetris DS and Mario Karts DS).
Posted by Philips (400 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You're right on a lot of points
Nintendo does spend the time to make the games fun, easy to learn, and difficult to master. The other consoles suffer a lot from developers more focused on eye-candy than actual gameplay. I've seen some gorgeous games that looked absolutely coma-inducing.

That being said, I'd only ever buy console system for racing games, everything else is better on a PC, especially FPS games. There's nothing outside of a fullsized light-gun with configurable buttons that will beat the mouse and keyboard for playability of FPS.
Posted by ElMartino1 (31 comments )
Link Flag
How True.
Nintendo makes games that are fun. Why should I invest hundreds of dollars into a mechanism that is unproven (PS3), unreliable (360) with Red Ring of death, and over priced (both PS3 and 360).
Adults want games that are fun for their kids. And Nintendo has them. Plus even adults enjoy them and play WITH their children on the console. Seeing that Sony and M$ cater games of violence (what don't you kill to win?), the industry cares more about numbers and resolution than overpriced, overheated toys.
Once Nintendo releases the Wii in Black, they have my vote.
Why should I put my faith in one appliance that will be center of (marketing) media hub? If I want HD video, I'll wait for a Universal player (for both BluRay and HD DVD). I'll also wait for SED as Plasma and LCD are still evolving.
And anyone fool enough to plop $25 down a year ahead for a $100 game (cough Halo 3), deserves the mockery. Oh, you missed a pimple...check the mirror.
Posted by Below Meigh (249 comments )
Link Flag
pc vs console
I'll be getting a Wii when the hype (and prices) go down a bit. Until then... I'll be waiting anxiously for the Burning Crusade...
Posted by roxyfire (2 comments )
Link Flag
I never bought a Nintendo console before but now..........
I loathed Nintento and it's arrogance from the NES days up to gamecube. They were the ********* company for developers. Everything had to be done the Ninty way or it was the highway. The original NES and SNES limited third party developement to 5 games per year reserving the lion's share for ninty itself.

That's why I owned a Sega Game Gear and a Genesis (Sega was harsh on devs as well but Ninty was far worse). Went for PS1 as soon as it came out (disillusioned by Sega and their add-ons) then got a PS2.

Last year I found my-self in a position where I was actually thinking of buying a Ninty console for the first time. So I got the DS.

18 years ago that never would have happened. And when I compare the graphics with PSP I don't feel cheated at all, because although I can't watch movies although I can't store mp3s I can spend hours on end playing the most ridiculously simple titles which I would never even considered if they were sold on the PSP with enchanced graphics.

I play polarium Wario Ware and Lost Magic over and over again

I buy titles which use extensively the stylus, any other title which doesn't is not even considered (including high profile Nintendo games such as New Super Mario Bros)

I am a huge fan of Final Fantasy played every single one on PS and PS2, but the if the upcoming release on the DS doesn't use the touch screen Square Enix can forget it.

And that's because I am addicted to the touch screen more than I am addicted to smoking

And now for the first time in 18 years I am anticipating a Ninty release.

I would love to play titles which are quirky and fresh. If I want serious mature games I can just go out and buy the PC version which is considerably cheaper than it's console ports.

I want a gust of fresh air damn it, and if Nintendo delivers they have my vote. HD or no HD (either way I don't own a HDTV nor do I intend to buy one for the next 3-4 years)
Posted by georgemark (7 comments )
Link Flag
Nintendo and backward compatibility.
The article talked about Sony and Microsoft's backwards compatibility but neglected to mention Nintendo's. For the first time, out of the box, the Wii will be able to play all GameCube games.

That was my personal beef with Nintendo after owning a NES, Super Nintendo and an Nindendo 64 (the latter two I still own).

I think the Wii would be a smart buy.
Posted by djdeac (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Yes, but ...
Will the Big N allow me to re-download (for free) all the games I own from the previous consoles maybe if I provide a valid serial# of the cart?.

For example: River City Ransom, arguably the greatest game ever.

or should I (cough) emulation (cough)...

My zapper broke, will wiimote function for duck hunt?
Posted by ColdMast (186 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not that easy
If you look at most NES cartridges, I think you will fail to find a serial number. And besides, how could you prove that you didn't just take someone else's number anyhow?

I think the best solution would be an add-on that you can plug cartridges directly into. Something along the lines of the Gameboy Player.
Posted by ddesy (4336 comments )
Link Flag
Web browser on WII?
Will WII have a web browser out of the box?
Posted by thk123 (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Opera for Wii (but not in the box?)
I believe I saw that Wii will use a version of the Opera browser ...
but it may not be pre-installed.
Posted by jscott (7 comments )
Link Flag
This is a no brainer since I'm boycotting Sony & MS
Nintendo has better more playable games also.
Posted by slim-1 (229 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The real winner...
Im not a gamer, probably the last time I played a video game was sometime in the mid 80s& But I have three kids who are, two of which are in college and they have figured this out. One roommate gets one console, the others get the other consoles, now they have all 3. At least they think they have it figured out&

The real winner  IBM! All three of these consoles use a variant of the Power chip (I think Sony uses the new Cell processor) and all three use more then one processor per console, I believe the 360 uses three. So if the forecast is somewhere around 150 million units over the life of this generation, thats over 450 million IBM Power based processors. I guess theres a reason IBM micro electronics saw a 30% jump in revenues last quarter. Id expect that to continue for awhile&
Posted by cauliflower ear (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
These analysts are bunch of hacks
That Doherty guy specially. I mean, the PS3's back-compatibility is a major competitive advantage? Anyone who has a library of PS2 games would have a PS2. A nice-to-have for sure, but hardly a make-or-break. And the notion that high demand for the HD-DVD add-ons will sink Microsoft is simply laughable. There's minimal demand for HD-DVD and people in general prefer a standalone player. Microsoft will have a tough time selling the few that they make.
Posted by Chung Leong (111 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not to mention....
That the PS3's backwards compatibility doesn't work with all PS2 and PSOne games.
Posted by SonicV4 (37 comments )
Link Flag
And..
...it's not like Blu-ray's a selling point or anything (seriously).
Posted by DraconumPB (229 comments )
Link Flag
Xbox 360 Fall Update screwing up consoles - Bad Timing
I'm one of the unlucky 1% as Microsoft calls us.
The 360 prompted for an update that was mandatory and since then old games and new games are locking up every few minutes. MS offered to fix it for $140 plus shipping.

Seem an ingenious way to make money - send out an update that breaks 1% of the 6 million consoles out there. Quick way to make 8.4 million dollars ... ( I know its a drop in the bucket to MS )

Some sites have said that part of the update was designed to fight against firmware modders, but mine is not modded. Heck I dont have enough time to use it but a couple times a month..

I hate to see the $ I have invested go to waste but Im not paying MS to fix a problem that they caused with a patch. Who knows how long it will be till they do it again.

Ill just return the unopened games to Best Buy and try to sell the Xbox and put the $140 plus shipping towards a nintendo or a PS3
Posted by Silver_2000 (51 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Article Incorrect regarding PS3 Backward Compatibility...
The PS3 will emulate PS2 games through software just like the Xbox 360 emulates Xbos games through software. This means emulation on the PS3 will take just as long to support the majority of titles, and may never support all titles. Sony will have to release regular software updates in order to support additional games. This article was incorrect in that respect.
Posted by Corrupt_Data (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Are you sure?
I've read several reports that the PS3 contains the Emotion Engine hardware from the PS2, not just software emulation.

Too early to know if everything is supported yet, but Gizmodo has video of Final Fantasy XII playing on a PS3, so that's not too bad right out of the box.
Posted by jhracing (14 comments )
Link Flag
Wrong: Emotion Engine in a PS3 = PS2 native gaming!
Where are you getting your "facts" from?

Here is a picture of the PS2's processor in a PS3

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://pc.watch.impress.co.jp.nyud.net:8080/docs/2006/1111/" target="_newWindow">http://pc.watch.impress.co.jp.nyud.net:8080/docs/2006/1111/</a>
ps3_37.jpg
Posted by raskol9 (3 comments )
Link Flag
at least give an opinion that isn't your own a CHANCE.
I like how people think that just cuz a person has a view different from their own, that they're "hacks" or whatever.

NEWSFLASH: These analysts make a living *analyzing* this kinda stuff. It's their job.

Joe Blow commenting from his couch that these analysts are off their rocker and the XBox360 is going to dominate this and that is entitled to his opinion, sure, but I think that I'd take the opinion of analysts/marketing execs IN THE BUSINESS as somewhat more substantial.

BTW, some people have very valid arguments for why the PS3 won't win this round, but really, people who say that the year headstart of MS is ACTUALLY meaningful in the life of this generation obviously don't remember the Saturn/PS debacle (when the PS outsold the Saturn's 5 or 6 month lead in like 3 days IIRC). Not saying that something that drastic is going to happen, and I realize that the market conditions are different, etc etc, but really. Sony is projecting a 7-yr lifespan on the PS3. Come on. One year?

My 2 cents.
Posted by mastercko (36 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Total Nintendo Victory
I can see it already. Nintendo is going to come out the victor for sure in this battle of the console wars. I mean, come on. 99.9999% of my friends are getting a Wii for a next-gen console and 99.9999% of those people are getting it just for the new controller. Seriously, who in their right mind wouldn't want to? You can swing it like a sword, shoot it like a gun, or hits things with it like a baseball bat. IMO, it allows you to immerse way more in the game, and boy, its $250 cheaper too!
Posted by windsamurai (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
PS2 Emotion Engine in PS3 - Pictures
Here is a picture of the PS2's processor in a PS3.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://pc.watch.impress.co.jp.nyud.net:8080/docs/2006/1111/" target="_newWindow">http://pc.watch.impress.co.jp.nyud.net:8080/docs/2006/1111/</a>
ps3_37.jpg

I think that pretty much ensures it plays all the PS2 games eh?
Posted by raskol9 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Uh....
Is that why Sony had to release a statement acknowledging that almost 200 titles do not work properly or at all?

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://ps3.ign.com/articles/745/745506p1.html" target="_newWindow">http://ps3.ign.com/articles/745/745506p1.html</a>
Posted by SonicV4 (37 comments )
Link Flag
Sony
will fall short this round. If Blue Ray does not become the next defactor standard...it will fall very hard with the PS3.

Price and it cant compete with Microsoft Xbox Live....will hurt the PS3. The WII will further kill it with its really lower price.
Posted by Lindy01 (443 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sony PS3 Already Having Serious Video Glitches
via digg.com

Some are blaming it on overheating. Wasn't Sony paying attention to the 360 launch?

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4kdWB7i1vE#GU5U2spHI_4" target="_newWindow">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4kdWB7i1vE#GU5U2spHI_4</a>

Here is a demo of the PS3 at best buy. You load up a game, this one is NBA Live '07. You get artifacts all over the screen but the game play is still going on
Posted by fasteight (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Xbox 360 overheating "problems" can be easily "fixed".
Just don't place the AC adapter in a closed small area, like many geniouses do.
Besides, why would any company pay any attention to what happens with less than 1% of the users of a certain product?
Posted by Ryo Hazuki (378 comments )
Link Flag
PS3 Backward compatibility lies
Just to clear the air, the PS3 is not completely backwards compatable with all PS, and PS2 games as quoted in your article. Upon release in Japan users found that many older games had "issues" or would not play at all. Sony has a site set up in which you can type in the name of an old game and find out if it is playable on the PS3. My sympathy goes out to the diehard Sony fans. The online service has also been less than successful. The bonus of Microsoft's XBOX 360 is that Microsoft builds the hardware and the software that goes with it making it stable and reliable. Sony only makes hardware, and uses third party OS and game software. I'm a huge gamefan and I can already sense the dissappointment of the Sony fans that have been loyal for many years. Sony has sold lie after lie to their fans.

Good luck Sony fans, I hope you don't regret your investment.

Later,
Sam
Posted by runingsam1 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
PS3-very dissappointing!
You took the words right out of my mouth
Posted by Santos (1 comment )
Link Flag
Sony extinction
Sony is on the virge of becomming another Colecovision... It only takes a few stupid issues to put a company out of a market. Lets see what Sony has done so far:

overheating - check
compatibility issues - check
cell processor glitches - check
motion controller problems - check
priced too high - check

Yep. Everything you need to loose even more marketshare. Such a shame. The rebirth of Nintendo is interesting though. I have a feeling that Sony will find itself in Nintendo's shoes.. fighting to rebuild an empire lost to lack of innovation.
Posted by exponents (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
 

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