the Gaming Console Market of 2006/2007 – who’s winning or losing?

Posted by: Rea Maor In: Games - Friday, February 9th, 2007

XBox vs. Wii vs. PS3! The ultimate death-match showdown! The stories got pretty crazy over the Holidays, with stories coming in about lines around the block, fights and violence, and resellers cleaning up on eBay. Now that the dust is settled, can we declare a winner?

The clearest answer we can come up with to “Who won?” is “Anybody but the Play Station 3.” Expensive, late to market, and with only about 20 or so game titles for it during December 2006, the PS3’s showing was dismal. But before we start playing violins for Sony, remember that its old system, the Play-Station 2, out-sold all three new-generation consoles last year! How’s that for irony: as matters stand now with an estimated 111 million users worldwide, Sony would be money ahead right now if they had simply pushed their PS2 and rested on their laurels.

There’s a kind of circular dependency with gaming consoles: consumers don’t want to buy a console unless there are a lot of games written for it, and software companies don’t want to sink the money into developing a game title for a platform that’s going nowhere.

Microsoft and Nintendo had strong showings for different reasons. The XBox was first to market and well established by the time Christmas came along, and Microsoft was more worried about getting the Vista operating system out the door than putting up a strong fight in the console market. Nintendo took home some nice receipts based on design.

That Nintendo Wii, and its nifty controller! The motion-sensing wand can imitate anything from a sword to a pistol to a baseball bat, and for the first time your physical motion counts as a factor in the game instead of just mashing buttons. The Wii wouldn’t have sold a unit if it hadn’t been for electronics trade shows. But once people saw that games were taken to a new level, they adored the unit.

One factor which nobody considered, but only discovered by accident: the Wii is actually more popular with women! Gaming marketers have been scratching their heads trying to figure out how to get more women gamers, all along missing a physical factor: the typical controller is this big, solid blob which is comfortable in a man’s meaty paws, but is a struggle to wield in a female hand. Next time you see your wife or daughter trying to use a standard gaming console controller, watch them as they try tricks like setting it in their lap on a pillow and typing on it. Women try out the slim Wii wand and love it, because it’s built for a narrower bone structure, and because the motions are more intuitive than memorizing long sequences of button combinations.

The design of everyday things…

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