In less than one month, Japan’s Sony will release its much-anticipated PlayStation 3 video game console, Nintendo will follow a few days later with the release of its next-generation Wii system, and both will compete with Microsoft’s latest offering in the space, Xbox 360, which was launched last year, The New York Times reports.
And so the next-gen console wars will begin.
Sony PlayStation 3 will launch on Nov. 17 and will be available for a base price of $499; Nintendo will go live with Wii on Nov. 19 and it will sell for $249; and Microsoft offers its Xbox 360 for $299, the Times reports.
Sony PlayStation 3
The three video game systems all include sleek design and a number of features unique to each, but the real war between the electronics titans will likely be waged on the Web, via the three systems’ online connectivity features, according to the Times.
Though Nintendo has devoted less focus to the Internet aspects of Wii—concentrating more on its new, innovative controller design instead—the company has said it too will feature online gaming functionality and the ability to download games via the Web, the Times reports.
Nintendo is hoping its controller, which users wave or swing like a wand or racket, will give it an edge over its rivals; however, it’s clear Sony and Microsoft are focusing a large percentage of their efforts on the online gaming space, the Times reports.
Sony says its computer hardware is the best—justifying the higher price—and will give its users an advantage in Web gaming, while Microsoft thinks its developed Xbox Live network will be the key to dominance of the online gaming space, according to the Times. Xbox Live is a $50-a-year service that enables Xbox 360 users to connect and play multiplayer games and participate in tournaments, the Times reports.
This Thursday, Sony will describe at a media event in San Francisco its own Web service and network, which developers and analysts have speculated will be free, according to the Times. While Microsoft’s Xbox Live service offers some free content, competitive activities are not free of charge, the Times reports.
Giancarlo Varanini, news editor with The Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine, told the Times Sony is creating two Web networks: one for multiplayer games and another to be used for purchases of music, games and other offerings. Varanini also told the Times Sony will open up its commerce and gaming networks to game makers for contests that could be hosted on those companies’ own servers and so that firms can sell their games directly to users.
David Hufford, Xbox product management director, told the Times that Microsoft has already invested hundreds of millions of dollars into its Xbox Live network.
“Our entire theme is connected entertainment,” Hufford told the Times. “That’s the driving theme for us this holiday.”
Jack Trenton, Sony Computer Entertainment of America co-chief operating officer, told the Times the company is aware of the potential of online gaming, but that it’s not focusing all of its attention on the space.
“Online is relevant and it will become more relevant over time, but it’s not the biggest thing to be excited about the next generation,” Trenton said, according to the Times.
Xbox 360 & HD DVD
Web gaming aside, Sony and Microsoft will also battle on the next-generation DVD format front, in which Blu-ray and HD DVD are currently fighting for supremacy. Sony backs the Blu-ray format, and it said both the $499 edition and the $599 high-end version of PlayStation 3 will be capable of playing Blu-ray discs. Microsoft has thrown its support behind the Toshiba-developed HD-DVD format, offering Xbox 360 users an HD-DVD add-on drive for roughly $170.