HOME Technology Nov 2006
Gamers go for gold
Xbox vs PS3 wargames

The games industry is going through a major repositioning with the Microsoft and Sony locked in battle for dominance over which platform has the best technology to win the console wars.

Back in November 2002 the Xbox was the new boy on the block, the uppity challenger to Sonyís supremacy in a market only nibbled at by Nintendo, with Gameboy and other smaller players getting the crumbs

Microsoft and Sony continue to invest big time, expanding their gaming engine performance, interactive response times, life-like renderings of on-screen action and enhancing the on-line multi-player experience.

Sony, which dominates the games console market with around 70 percent share had originally planned a November launch. However the cost of the new Blu-ray DVD player and other developments have pushed PlayStation 3 out until at least March 2007. Itís expected to have a price tag of at least $700 for the basic 20Gb hard drive unit featuring fast Cell Broadband processor, six axis motion controller and Blu-ray DVD player. Youíll pay extra for a 60Gb drive, HDMI (high definition interface), wireless connectivity and other accessories.

Microsoftís Xbox 360, available since March 2006, comes with a 20Gb hard drive, two wireless controllers, access to Xbox Live and sells for $550 Ė $1500, depending on bundled games and accessories.

Since launch there have been more than 95,000 units sold in Australia and New Zealand, more than 57,000 downloads from Xbox Live, and over 12 million games downloaded from Xbox Live Arcade.

Worldwide itís alleged Xbox 360 has five million owners and four million of them use Xbox Live, more than any console-specific broadband platform. According to Microsoft 50 percent of New Zealand Xbox 360 owners are using broadband to connect with Xbox Live.

Microsoftís goal has been to reach critical mass. Itís believed that when a games console has 10 million units in the market, a fierce loyalty takes over, creating a burgeoning demand for more games, console improvements and accessories.

Microsoft is already feeding that addiction with new releases, include the Wireless Racing Wheel, Xbox Live Vision Camera, Xbox Live Points Cards plus piles of new games just launched. Itís expected there will be over 160 games available for Xbox 360 by Christmas

Being able to launch Xbox 360 into the world market way ahead of PlayStation 3 may have given the perception of having a major edge but loyal PlayStation fans are also excited about their next generation console and in no hurry to swap allegiance.

Nintendo shouldnít be entirely forgotten either, although its fan base has not typically been strong in New Zealand. Nevertheless itís on the comeback trail with the Nintendo Wii console which comes with a range of new features, including motion sensitive controllers.

PC gamers are also a staunch lot and Microsoft and other manufacturers havenít forgotten them, with a sack of goodies due for Christmas. Meanwhile the January 2007 debut of Windows Vista operating system promises to further enhance the gaming experience. The Media Centre software takes it closer to the digital world gamers are familiar with, and the DirectX 10 toolkit allows developers to deliver sensory upgrades, and more detailed virtual worlds than previously possible.

Microsoft is also planning for the future Live Anywhere, an extension of Xbox Live which allows PC and Xbox 360 owners to join each other online for games, and sharing information across a range of devices.

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