Xbox 360 vs. PlayStation 3 vs. Wii:
Who Will Win the Next-Generation Console Wars?
The seventh generation of console war officially began when all three players – Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Sony’s PlayStation 3, and Nintendo’s Wii – made their way into the market. But the battle began way before 19 November 2006, the date of the release of Wii, the very last next-generation console to be released. Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii started to fight each other the moment the first console –Xbox 360 – was announced to gamers all over the world…and that was way back in 12 May 2005.
As evidenced in the 2006 Electronic Entertainment Expo or E3, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo have been working really hard on ensuring that their consoles get the biggest market share before the buying battle even commenced. On display in E3 were the different wares each console can uniquely offer: official titles, demo games, and booths where players can sample each console.
And now E3 has long passed (in fact, it has now become defunct due to its apparent expensive costs) and the consumers no longer have to be teased with promises of exclusive titles, amazing features, and what-nots. Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii are now positioned in the market and the ballgame is now up to the gamers – hardcore and casual alike. Considering all factors, which next-generation console will win the war? Is it Microsoft’s Xbox 360, which had an almost one year head start? Or will it be Sony’s PlayStation 3, with its computer-like features and HD graphics? Or perhaps Nintendo’s Wii and its ‘revolutionary’ Wiimote will take home the prize?
Let’s take a look at each console:
7th Generation Home Console Overview
Microsoft Xbox 360
22 November 2005
US$ 279.99 to 449.99
720p to 1080p
394 original XBOX games
Sony PlayStation 3
11 November 2006
US$ 499 to 599
1080i to 1080p
PS and PS2 games
19 November 2006
720i to 720p
Sources: Microsoft Corporation. (2007, July). Xbox 360. Xbox.com. Retrieved October 20, 2007, from http://www.xbox.com/en-US/hardware/playmorepayless/default.htm?WT.svl=nav.; Nintendo of America, Inc. (2007). Wii. Nintendo Wii. Retrieved October 20, 2007, from http://www.nintendo.com/channel/wii.; Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc. (2007). PlayStation 3. PlayStation America. Retrieved October 20, 2007, from http://www.us.playstation.com/PS3/About/ProductDetails.
As one can see, the biggest thing that Microsoft has for its console is the internal memory. Including as much as 120 GB for its ‘Elite’ core, Xbox 360 beats its opponents in the memory game. Even with PlayStation 3’s eventual release of an 80 GB version of its latest offering, it still takes a lot to take down the Xbox 360. Xbox 360’s ability to offer the most memory will factor in a lot in the next-generation console war, according to Silicon Knights (Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem and Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes) President Denis Dyack. The developer admits that having more available memory makes the Xbox 360 equal to the PlayStation 3, despite its having a weaker cell processor. PlayStation 3 boasts of having a processor two to three times more powerful than Microsoft’s baby but this, according to Dyack, may be toppled by Xbox 360’s memory. (Graft, 2006) Wii, on the other hand, seems to have not even tried to compete in this arena, inducing only a mere 512 MB internal memory.
Another battle that Wii may have lost is that of graphics. Still offering a mere 720i to 720p output, Wii cowers against the Xbox 360 (which has recently started to offer 1080p) and the PlayStation 3 (which has always bragged about being “true” HD with its 1080p resolution). But still according to Dyack, although the 1080p have its edge, “both look quite good”. Even CNET David Katzmaier (2006) admits that “the premium for 1080p is still pretty steep”.
But the biggest battle in the next generation console is not the memory nor the graphics, it is – and perhaps always will be for future generations – about the games each console can offer. Take for example the case of the GameCube in the sixth generation. It met its demise when game developers dropped it like a hot potato; and without fresh games to tinker with, the gamers lost interest in the GameCube (Eran, 2006). This very important battle for the most games to offer may have been the reason why this generation of consoles was built with backwards compatibility – meaning that they have the ability to play games originally made for its predecessors. Xbox 360 is still in the process of making all its original Xbox (or XBOX 1) games to play on the 360. As of now, Microsoft Corporation (2007) lists a total of 394 XBOX 1 games as compatible with the next-gen console, with popular titles such as Sims 2, Silent Hill 2: Restless Dreams, and Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Double Agent recently added to the list. PlayStation 3, on the other hand, lets its PlayStation 3 play games that were meant for PlayStations 1 and 2. Even Wii offers support for GameCube titles. Even with three consoles offering backwards compatibility, though, Eran (2006) says that PlayStation 3 may still have the edge here. Sony has under its belt is the best-selling sixth generation console, with sales receipts ringing a big 39.1 million units sold as of 20 September 2007, in America alone (Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc., 2007). With the bigger installed user base, Sony gains more possibility of enticing its PlayStation 1 and 2 owners to go out and purchase a PlayStation 3. As to who comes in second, some may easily say “Xbox 360” given that the GameCube has been dropped by developers. But Eran (2006) begs to differ, citing that despite rumors, GameCube sales were very close to that of XBOX 1.
Speaking of games, availability of exciting software will surely be one of the – if not THE – biggest consideration as to what console gamers will be purchasing. The battle for exclusivity proves just how important this arena actually is. But it is not the exclusive titles that’s important but the quantity and, of course, the quality of the games to be offered. Here, the PlayStation 3 may have its problems. Even with a lot of titles to offer (some already out in the market, some still in production), PlayStation 3 is being criticized for having games that do not really fully deliver on its promised features. Developers also admit to having a harder time making games for the PlayStation 3 (Eran, 2006). Wii, on the other hand, has a handful of games already available. It even came out bundled with the now popular Wii titles Wii Sports and Wii Play (Casamassina, 2007). Eran (2006) also writes that Wii have its edge when it comes to offering not only the biggest quantity of games but also the best quality. As he outlined in his RoughlyDrafted.com article, Microsoft and Sony are only good at bettering existing games with drool-worthy graphics but can never offer something new. However, Nintendo has the uncanny sense of discarding formulaic games and coming up with those that are simple yet fun to play with. With Wii, Nintendo has also made the gaming landscape more ‘involving’. This, Eran (2006) means that Nintendo’s primary market target is not the same as Xbox 360’s and Sony’s but is more expansive. It has taken its share of the market beyond the fanboys and the hardcore gamers and is now aiming to entice casual gamers (Colleli, 2006). But this is not to say that Wii is not looking into taking a bite of the hardcore gamer/fanboy market pie: it is offering – and will offer – lots of games that may appeal to the usual console buyers. Under its name are games such as Red Steel, Call of Duty 4, and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, the latter of which has made a ‘self-confessed’ hardcore gamer to write:
Thankfully, what Zelda has shown me is that the Wii does have the capacity to offer a very different gaming experience to what we’re used to [hardcore games], one that is just as compelling, if not more so. It’s up to developers to make sure their games achieve this. (Ring, 2006)
Of course, the price of the games will also affect how the gamers will view each console. Whereas Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 games are being sold at US$ 60 (with some popular 360 games ringing as much as US$ 70), Wii titles are available for only US$ 50.
But it’s not just in the games that Wii offers the most affordable price – even its console comes cheap, compared to the other two. Just recently, Sony has dropped its console prices to US$ 499 (with the US$ 599 price tag being connected to the 80GB console) because Wii has been outselling the PlayStation 3 (Snider, 2007). This may be a big help in boosting PlayStation 3 sales but Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Michael Pachter says that it is still not enough. He contends that people just don’t think that much money is too big an investment for a console and that Nintendo will maintain its lead as long as Sony and Microsoft keep their consoles at the US$ 300 to 500 price range (Snider, 2007).
Yet the Wii can afford to keep its price at a minimum because it only plays games, argues Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The two latter consoles prides themselves as being movie players as well: Xbox 360 offers an add-on HD-DVD movie player, while PlayStation 3 has a built-in Blu-Ray disc player. Although both high-definition movie have no installed fan base yet, their inclusion in both consoles will still affect the results of this generation’s console war. As one can see, PlayStation naturally has the edge since Blu-Ray is already installed in the unit, whereas consumers will have to purchase a different hardware to make the Xbox 360 play HD-DVD movies. But as history dictates, Sony is weak in introducing new formats: its Betamax and UMD have both failed to capture the market. Because of this, many predict that Blu-Ray is also bound to fail, especially since movie executives are professing support for HD-DVD. Even with the help of Disney and Fox, Blu-ray support fails in comparison to Universal Studios Home Entertainment’s pledged support for HD-DVD. Why? Because that pledge means that titles appearing under Universal, Warner, Paramount, HBO, New Line Cinemas, and the Weinstein Company will all be making its way not on Blu-Ray but on HD-DVD. (Sherri, 2006)
Yet just how much HD-DVD and Blu-Ray will affect the next-generation console war is yet to be seen. What really matters as of the moment are those that relate to gaming. And one of the factors that we may look at is the controller. Here, PlayStation 3’s SIXAXIS and Wii’s Wiimote + Nunchuck battle it out. Both controllers had its issues yet only one of them has successfully taken action. When reports of “Wiinjuries” – broken TVs, yanked hairs, cut limbs, and twisted ankles due to Wiimote slippage – made its way into the media, Nintendo made sure that the faulty Wiimote straps will be replaced free of charge (H., 2006; Nintendo, 2006). And now, there have been little to no reports of Wiinjuries. Sony’s SIXAXIS, on the other hand, reportedly has some connection issues. Being wireless, the controller connects to the console via Bluetooth…and that’s where the problem ensues. Reports of the SIXAXIS failing to connect to the PlayStation 3 first surfaced in the NeoGaf forums where a certain Shawnwhann (2006) encountered a “spazing” controller in the middle of playing NBA 2K7. Same reports have made its way into news websites earlier this year. When asked about this, Sony only says they “have no knowledge of a fault” (Jackson, 2007). If this SIXAXIS problem proves to be true, then it may cause gamers to actually doublethink about buying a PlayStation 3 unless Sony takes action in ‘repairing’ it.
It may well be worth mentioning that if the war is to be taken out of America, then Microsoft just may consider giving up. Japan, which constitutes one of the biggest gaming markets, has a natural aversion towards Microsoft simply because it is not a Japanese company. Sony and Nintendo, though, have their roots in Japan giving them an edge in what is arguably the gaming capital of the world. And even with efforts to target Japan, Microsoft still fails to churn out titles that are appealing to the Japanese. (Eran, 2006)
There are indeed many factors to consider when analyzing who will win the next-generation of console wars. And the sales do not even count for much since the war has been ongoing for just a year. But if sales is to be considered as an important factor then Wii wins, hands down. Not only has Sony curbed to its prices, but Wii has apparently beaten the Xbox 360 sales every month this year (Casamassina). But Wii emerges the winner not only in the price arena. As Karen R. (2006) of QJ.net wrote, the console wars have matured from being merely about mind-blowing graphics and sounds to being centered on content, gameplay, and fun factor. With this, then Wii is sure to take home the “bext next-generation console” trophy. Yet the war is far from over. Let’s wait out a few years and see if Wii will still emerge victorious or if Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 will come up with something to topple the current winner from its number one place.
Casamassina, Matt. (2007, July 25). Nintendo Sales Update. IGN. Retrieved October 20, 2007, from http://wii.ign.com/articles/807/807852p1.html.
Casamassina gives an update on Nintendo sales – down from the handheld Nintendo DS, the Wii, and the available games – as of July 2007. Here, he reveals just how Strong Nintendo’s bet is, beating the Xbox 360 almost every month this year.
Colleli, Sean. (2006, August 9). Could the Wii Fail?. Gaming Nexus. Retreived October 20, 2007, from http://www.gamingnexus.com/Default.aspx?Section=Article&I=1150.
Gaming Nexus’ Sean Colleli analyzes the Wii and its potential for staying in the next-generation console war. Although the article concludes that Wii has a lot to do to be able to prove itself, Colleli admits to the Wii having a bigger target market.
Eran, Daniel. (2006, November 22). Next Gen Consoles: PS3 vs. Xbox 360 vs. Wii. RoughlyDrafted.com. Retrieved October 19, 2007, from http://www.roughlydrafted.com/RD/Q4.06/5B47C6B2-0191-4825-80C9-F6EBCA0E3B23.html.
Doing a study much like this one, Daniel Eran also concludes the Wii to be the winner of the seventh generation console war. Even with mucho points for Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Eran still says that Wii takes home the prize because of its “Wiivolutionary” take. This site is helpful as it outlines the pros and cons of each console.
Graft, Kris. (2006, October 31). Denis Dyack Talks Console Wars. Next Generation. Retrieved October 19, 2007, from http://www.next-gen.biz/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4110&Itemid=2.
With developers playing a big role in the success (or failure) of a console, it is important to take not of a developer’s take on the ongoing battle. Being one of the well-respected developers, Silicon Knights have a viable say. Here, the president Denis Dyack confides to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 being equal and that Wii might actually be a contender if the Wiimote “stands the test of time”.
H., Jex. (2007, March 04). Another Wiimote yeowtch story: girl rips off chunk of hair. QJ.net. Retrived October 20, 2007, from http://wii.qj.net/Another-Wiimote-yeowtch-story-girl-rips-off-chunk-of-hair/pg/49/aid/84915.
QJ.net details the latest injury to be had from the Wiimote – a girl yanking a big chunk of her hair. This article also provides links to previous Wiinjuries.
Jackson, Mike. (2007, March 14). Bluetooth connection issue arises with Sixaxis. CVG. Retrieved October 19, 2007, from http://www.computerandvideogames.com/article.php?id=159995&skip=yes.
This is the latest article regarding the SIXAXIS’ failure to connect with the PlayStation 3. Aside from proving that the problem still exists a year from the console’s launch, it also shows how Sony is currently uncooperative in rectifying a mistake that was first reported during the console’s launch.
Katzmaier, David. (2006, September 12). HDTV resolution explained. C|NET. Retrieved October 20, 2007, from http://www.cnet.com/4520-7874_1-5137915-1.html?tag=txt.
High definition graphics are one of the biggest considerations in this generation’s console war. Yet even with talks of amazing graphics, not everybody understands the jargon. In this C|NET article, David Katzmaier breaks down the concept in simple words.
Microsoft Corporation. (2007, July). Xbox 360. Xbox.com. Retrieved October 20, 2007, from http://www.xbox.com/en-US/hardware/playmorepayless/default.htm?WT.svl=nav.
Being the Official Xbox 360 Website, this outlines the features offered by Microfost’s bet.
Nintendo. (2006). Wii Remote Wrist Strap Replacement Request Form. Nintendo Wii. Retrieved October 20, 2007, from http://wii.nintendo.co.uk/6315.html.
Details the measures taken by Nintendo to rectify reports of a faulty Wiimote strap that led to numerous injuries and broken appliances.
Nintendo of America, Inc. (2007). Wii. Nintendo Wii. Retrieved October 20, 2007, from http://www.nintendo.com/channel/wii.
Nintendo outlines the official features plus the available games for its Wii.
R., Karen. (2006, May 17). Let the next-gen wars begin…. QJ.net. Retrieved October 19, 2007, from http://www.qj.net/Let-the-next-gen-wars-begin-/pg/49/aid/40789.
Karen R. talks about the biggest factor into the next-generation console war: the fun factor. Laying out facts on how Sony and Microsoft can sometimes be focused on graphics, she hints that Nintendo may just have an edge in the war. But since the article was written before PlayStation 3’ and Wii’s releases, the article is not that conclusive.
Ring, Bennett. (2006, December 11). Wii – A Hardcore Gamer’s Perspective: Can the Wii appeal to the hardcore gamer? IGN. Retrieved October 20, 2007, from http://wii.ign.com/articles/750/750418p1.html.
Because Wii is touted as not made for hardcore gamers, Bennett Ring – a self-confessed hardcore gamer – tests Wii. Having played Wii Sports with his girlfriend, he admits that Wii may be weak in attracting gamers like him. But when he tested The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Ring concludes that Wii may have lots of potential – it will just boil down to game developers.
Shawnwhann. (2006, November 25). Its Official: Sony’s Bluetooth Wireless Controllers Have Epilepsy [Msg 1]. Message posted to http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?s=4372099d1762a1cef25b4bd6b834f048&t=130795.
Here is the first reported appearance of a complaint regarding the SIXAXIS’s problem in connecting to the PlayStation 3 console.
Sherri. (2006, September 17). PS3’s Blu-ray Destined To Fail?. Igniq.com. Retrieved October 19, 2007, from http://www.igniq.com/2006/09/ps3s-blu-ray-destined-to-fail.html.
Sherri reveals the current massive movie executive support for HD-DVD, which may in turn lead to the failure of Blu-ray.
Snider, Mike. (2007, July 9). PlayStation 3 price cut by $100. USA Today. Retrieved October 20, 2007, from http://www.usatoday.com/tech/gaming/2007-07-09-playstation-price_N.htm.
Including insights from Sony insider and market analyst, Mike Snider makes it known how Sony led to a price cut. Here, Snider says that Wii’s victory in the market just may rattle Sony and lead to Nintendo winning the next-gen console war.
Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc. (2007). PlayStation 3. PlayStation America. Retrieved October 20, 2007, from http://www.us.playstation.com/PS3/About/ProductDetails.
Sony details product and technical specifications of PlayStation 3.
Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc. (2007). KAZUO HIRAI, PRESIDENT AND GROUP CEO OF SONY COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT, OUTLINES PLANS FOR PLAYSTATION BUSINESS AT TOKYO GAME SHOW 2007 KEYNOTE SPEECH. SCEI. Retrieved October 20, 2007, from http://www.scei.co.jp/corporate/release/070920ae.html.
A Sony Japan press release details what CEO Kazuo Hirai plans to do in the following months (or year). Here, he also brags about how well their latest console is doing in the market.