Tomorrow is November, and you know what that means – game console launches! Both Nintendo and Sony will be releasing their latest offerings this month, so don’t be surprised if you hear a lot about it over the next few weeks. Hopefully though, the coverage is more accurate and credible than GameDaily’s latest. Author James Brightman outlines five reasons that Sony will win the “Next Gen Console War”. Here are his reasons, with my comments underneath each one:
1. The Brand
Brightman is right, a “strong brand should not be underestimated.” However, the problem with this argument (that Sony will win because it has a strong brand) is that nothing lasts forever! Indeed, Brightman states, “in the late ’80s and early ’90s Nintendo was king, but on today’s market there is no brand more synonymous with the world of video games than PlayStation.” Too bad he couldn’t read his own sentence and realize that what happened to Nintendo could happen to Sony too.
2. Microsoft (somewhat) Squandered its Lead
Nice to the see conviction in his argument – “somewhat” hey? Microsoft’s goal is to sell 10 million consoles by the end of 2006. They are definitely behind at the moment. But let’s see how the holiday season shakes out, shall we?
3. Japan is Ripe for the Taking
Japan has never been a strong market for Microsoft. The first Xbox did horribly there, and I don’t think MS execs were expecting to do that much better with the Xbox 360. Not that it matters – Sony cannot “win” by simply selling more in Japan. Once again, Brightman neglects to read his own writing: “let’s not forget that this is a global market.”
4. Blu-ray Will Matter
If there’s one good thing about Brightman and his article, it’s that he makes tearing it apart really easy. He writes, “sure some of this is hype, and maybe we’re falling for it…” You better believe it is hype. Anything related to Blu-ray or HD-DVD at this point is hype.
“In one to two years, we think the combination of the Blu-ray medium and the Cell processor will lead to a noticeable difference between the visuals of the PS3 and the Xbox 360, as developers begin to really harness the technology in the PS3.”
Seems to me that Brightman isn’t a very technical person. Developing for the Xbox 360 in such a way that you can extract every ounce of performance is hard. It requires a shift in the way developers think and work (because of multiple cores, etc). There aren’t any 360 games that really do this yet. So, to say that in a one or two years the Cell processor and Blu-ray will lead to a noticeable difference is ridiculous. First of all, 360 games are going to get better. More importantly though, developing for the PS3 is even more complex than for the Xbox 360, so I would expect it to take much more time before we see the best possible visuals.
5. Free Online
This is the one argument I somewhat agree with. Completely free, full online access for PS3 gamers is a big deal. We all know Microsoft has deep pockets however, so if they wanted to make Xbox Live Gold free, they certainly could. I think they’ll wait though, to see what the PS3 online service is like. People will pay for quality.
A few more things
There’s a ton of other problems with this article. For one, what about Nintendo? Brightman compares Sony almost exclusively to Microsoft. The Wii might not have fancy graphics, but I’d argue it belongs in the “next gen” classification. The PS3 is going to have to beat the Wii too. For another thing, there’s no mention of the cost. The PS3 is really expensive, both in comparison to previous consoles, and to its competitors. Brand allegiance is important, but it often falls apart in the case of extremely high prices. Another thing – the Playstation doesn’t have the huge list of exclusive titles that previous versions did. Lots of games are now available for multiple consoles. I could go on.
It’s really easy to make predictions about how the consoles will fare against one another. It is much harder to make accurate predictions. That said, its pretty simple to come up with something better than this GameDaily article.