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Next Generation Games Consoles - Separating Fact from Fiction

Over the next 18 months the 3 giants of the Games Console world will be battling it out in stores and homes across Europe, America and Asia for the title of the world greatest Games Console. The stakes are high in this multi billion dollar business, not just for the console sales but for the games sales that go along side it. Since the launch announcements of all 3 consoles in May at the E3 conference in LA. The 3 combatants have been vying for the millions of column inches that have been written about the Next Generation Consoles. Each Press release has been hotly followed by another press release from a rival company so much so that extracting the facts from all the hype has been nearly impossible. At the launch press conferences Microsoft boasted that the Xbox 360 could do 9-billion-dot-product-operations per second. Sony then came out and said that the PS3 could do 51-billion-dot-product-operations per second however Sony had combined the CPU and GPU performance numbers whilst Microsoft only reported its CPU performance number. When the consumer is up against this sort of publicity blizzard it is best not to believe a thing until you can check the facts for yourself.

So what do we know?

Well for the Xbox 360 and the Sony Playstation 3 we have lots of lists of hardware and specifications which actually don't mean very much in isolation. The main thing that need concern us are the processor speeds and they are both stated as being 3.2 GHz The only time that the hardware will mean anything is when we get to run them side by side and then if experience is anything to go by the difference in real life performance won't be noticeable and will just be used by the press departments to battle it out.

Despite all the press releases and information that has been spewing out of the headquarters of Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo we actually know very few facts. We know that in all likelihood the Xbox 360 will be on the shelves in time for Christmas, Amazon are currently taking pre-delivery orders and are quoting a release date of November 28th. The prices have been set at $299 for the Core System and $399 for the Xbox 360, the difference being that the Core system doesn't have the external hard drive required to save games and download new content or the headset required to play online on Xbox Live! Why 2 prices? and why a version that hasn't got everything included? This looks very much like a product of the marketing department trying to get a product at the historically important sub $300 level more than anything and this may backfire on them in the long run.

Next to hit the Shelves will be Sony's Playstation 3 supposedly in spring next year once again we have very few facts to go on, Sony are continually releasing press releases and mentioning in public that the price will be high and the figure of $500 has been mentioned but many industry experts suspect that this is a ploy so that when they release it at $300 or $350 it will look like a bargain. The final console to hit the shelves will be the Nintendo Revolution some time late in 2006 and 2007. Since the "launch" at E3 this year very little has been said about it by Nintendo. It seems at this time the "Launch" was just a way to deflect some of the publicity away from Microsoft and Sony. One fact is certain, If Microsoft do get the Xbox 360 onto the shelves before Christmas it will be this year's biggest selling Christmas gift. So until you get your hands on one of the consoles?.Question everything!

Mark Thompson ran an IT consultancy in London for many years. He now live in Spain and runs an number of websites including NextGen Consoles and World of the Weird

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