Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Console us...

The Next-Gen console war is already here with us. Its been raging for quite some time. For those of us not quite up to speed, here's a short and vapid history of the last major capatalist melee, affectionately known as the 6th-Generation era console war.

The Contenders:
Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony (with Sega's Dreamcast playing the Italians..)

There was never going to be a clear winner from the outset; Sony had seen resounding success with the original Playstation console, having marketed it at a new dynamic. The 18-25 year old male. Common sense we say? Hindsight is always 20-20, but the move was a far different step fom the previously releases from giants Sega and Nintendo. With this firm fanbase already in place, the release of the Playstation 2 was met with great anticipation. It also featured a variety of groundbreaking technological innovations to bring it more functionality to the modern user. It was cd and dvd compatible and featured force-feedback controllers. Thus it was the PS2 was released across the world during the first year of this century.

Nintendo's offering, the Gamecube was to follow next, taking a radically different approach, Nintendo released a console featuring ergonomically designed control-pads, 4-player ability and compatibility with their handheld unit, the GameBoy Advance. Surprisingly, Nintendo decided to forgoe the burgeoning DVD craze and had the GC run from 8cm optical discs.They also released the console with a flurry of kid-lite games, with cartoonish graphics which led to it being considered as a children's game machine.
It was released worldwide in 2001.

Microsoft entered the Console market the next year with their pc-based technological heavy-weight. As with the PS2 it featured both DVD functionality and force-feedback, but with the added bonus of a built in online system and a dedicated system to run it through (X-box Live). It was released between 2001 and 2002 segmentally.

The War

The PS2 took the world by storm upon its release, headed up by games, with a more mature aiming, such as the GTA and Metal Gear: Solid series'. Nintendo's launch was also successful, with the higher quality in graphics and sound being heralded by the existing Nintendo fan-base and new users alike. However the lack in variety of games and the 'cartoonish' nature of some led it to being disregarded against the PS2's full backward compatibility and despite being cheaper, sales fell. Then the xbox hit the scene, and on the back of its hyped release title Halo, made a name for itself.

Arguably the loser of the war was the Gamecube; which despite outselling the X-box in Japan, never managed this level of popularity in the west. Its lack of a dvd drive lessened sales further, and with dropping sales came the retraction of games from 3rd party games companies. Leaving the console as an interesting footnote, with many titles currently being released, and a still-loyal fanbase of users who proclaim it above the others of the 6th generation, it has become the budget console of choice.Ultimately the PS2 has won hands-down both finacially and per units sold. Its lead on the X-box has never been caught up, in addition, the X-box has since its first release, invariably been sold at a loss, its first profits not turned over till 4 years after its initial release. However both consoles still run strong, with many units sold and the current average-prices resting comfortably around the £100 mark.

So, until the next war....

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