20061118

Sony's PS3 vs. Nintendo's Wii

The Contenders
In the black corner, weighing in at a, *ahem*, hefty 16 lbs, Sony's next-gen contender: the Playstation 3!


Yeah yeah, I'm a bit late posting this. But I haven't had time to gather enough information for this battle until now! Sony owns my soul, so this article should be biased. But I've got a soft spot for Hyrule's princess, right in the nethers, so it won't be too bad.

Sony's PS3 came out on Friday. You would have to live in some god forsaken spot in the north pole not to know this. Hell, my mom knew! I don't think she's touched a controller since I torched my last Atari 2600! And by god, the commercials... If it wasn't for the fact that Sony has put forth one of the most elegant, simple and understated advertising campaigns seen in 5 years I think that only 98% of the world would know about this in stead of the 99% of the world that does. (I think I heard some Amazon forest pixies talking it up.)

I've seen arguments all over the web about the pricing for the PS3. Whiny little bastards if you ask me. "I don't want to pay $600 for a console that plays BD (Blu-ray disc for you 'kunt-ry folk'); PS1, PS2 and PS3 games; DVDs; can browse the web; can connect to my PSP and any other Wi-fi enabled device; has 7.1 audio and up to 1080p Hi-def resolution; can read most major SS (solid-state) memory devices;" etc..., blah blah blah, boo Hoo HOO!

You know what else it can do?
Play and record CDs in three formats (MP3, WMA and ATRAC)
Dual boot with the "Other OS" feature (going to test this soon...)
Respond to motions via the (fan-fucking-tastic!) SixAxis controller
Back up data from your PSP, PS2, PS1 and PS3 memory cards
Handle up to six players
Download PS1 games (feature to be unveiled later this year according to SCEA)
Do online gaming (is this a de facto feature now?)
And, although unconfirmed, I'm pretty sure it can give a pretty kick-ass blowjob.

I can see where, normally, you wouldn't judge a console by it's first day, or even first week's, sales. But the PS3 is a whole different ball of wax.

Sony, JP, is playing the box as more than "just another console". In fact, the PS3 is: the cheapest BD player on the market; the cheapest actual HTPC with Hi-Def video and audio support and one of the cheapest web-capable, set-top type devices on the market. Cisco and Apple's partnership will provide a web-ready box for about the same price and functionality (minus the disc-based playback and game support?) but the date has yet to be set for that device.

Playability is fantastic, at least from my limited play time. The controller is impossibly light and feels like nothing. But it remains ultra-responsive and the inclusion of two full-travel 'triggers' is a welcomed addition. It's wireless, so no more "cord flip" (sorry, couldn't find the Penny Arcade reference I was looking for...). The issue I do have is the text input system on the main menu: it's based on a cell-phone type text entry scheme! Yeah, I really don't like that. My suggestion is to have a USB keyboard of some kind on hand for browsing and other text-based needs.

Also included is a "removable" 20 60GB hard drive which may or may not allow for upgrades. My guess, indeed hope, is that it is user servicable and upgradeable. If this is the case I'll not hesitate to throw an 80Gb or larger in, install Linux and make the thing in to a true HTPC. God, wouldn't that be nice (insert dream sequence here...).

Sony has stated that there are some games from the previous systems' libraries that won't play, but "8000 plus games is nothing to scoff at". I did cause the box to crash at one point, though this was probably due to a layer-8 conflict on the physical interface. Shit happens. Given information like this it's easy to see how this will be one of the most widely desired devices on the market for a good, long time.

And in the white corner, weighing it at an impossible (figure to be added when Nintendo's site stops being a bitch!), is Nintendo's highly playable cutie of a box: the Wii!

The Wii, Nintendo's next-gen console due out 11192006, doesn't even compare, technologically speaking. Although it's biggest selling point is a better use of motion-based gameplay, a sore spot for many PS3 gamers, and the ability to browse the web, the only other visible reason to pick one over the PS3 is the price: a full $250-$350 less than the 'black box'.

Wii's web capabilities come from the Mozilla camp, a group of highly talented programmers who provide some of the best web-browsing software available. We shall soon see if Nintendo was able to cram the svelte browser in without mucking things up on launch day.

The Wii's most anticipated capability is it's motion detection prowess. Using a sensor bar that is placed by the unit itself the Wii is capable of detecting the motion of the controller in 3d space. This gives you the ability to pull off some kick-ass Kung Fu shit in your living room. Pair this with a karaoke version of DDR and you can really make an ass of yourself!

While the Wii can't play DVDs (unconfirmed at this point is a firmware upgrade to allow standard defenintion DVD playback), you can download the entire (?) Nintendo cartridge library. That means N64, SNES, NES, Sega Genesis (OMG!) and TurboGrafx-16 (OMGWTFBBQ!, gotta find a towel...) games will be available for a small fee and downloaded directly to the console's hard drive. (Maybe this is what pushed Microsoft and Sony to enable similar features?)

There's a slew of controllers available for the Wii:
The standard "Wii-mote" controller
The 'Nunchuk' attachment
The "Classic" controller, reminiscent of the SNES controller with two analog sticks
And, rumored by the now defunct E3, is another gun. This elusive controller combines the Wii-mote and Nunchuk in a large, gun-shaped casing. No official word yet on availability though.

Nintendo has officially announced a service that will update your games while the system is in standby mode. Dubbed "WiiConnect24", the service is designed to seamlessly update your games and includes "other surprises" each time you turn the system on. This should be an interesting feature.

The verdict
There's touting and, conceivably, failure at every major console launch. Sony has informed it's customers and vendors that the promise of 1-1.2M units out by years end would be broken. We're some 400,000 units short, bringing the total to somewhere in the neighborhood of 750,000-800,000 units. These delays are due "to the availability and production times of the Blu-ray drives", which is (in my humble opinion, anyway) a forgivable offense. Some analysts say that early adoption of the newest technology, namely BD and Cell technology, is a faux pas. But if the PS2 is any indicator of Sony's potential for marketing, packaging and support prowess then we have a lot to expect of the PS3. I personally think sales will live up to expectations if Sony can get their production facilities up to snuff within the next two weeks as predicted.

The Wii, on the other hand, will be shipping between 7M and 9M consoles. The fact that they had 2M consoles produced and sitting in warehouses waiting to be shipped for the launch date alone is amazing. According to certain 'sarces' I've managed to scour, Nintendo's aim is to have some 11M units out by end of calendar year. That's amazing! I don't think that any launch has ever gone off this well. Nobody can make these numbers without some serious forethought, something that, unfortunately, Sony did not accomplish. While only time will tell which system rakes in the numbers better I'm going to give my opinion as to who the winner in this match will be.

And the winner is...
Microsoft, given weak numbers so far, will finish fQ42007 in second place by system numbers and second in revenue.

Sony, due to the high cost of the system, will finish in third in both respects. Even taking in to consideration the lowered price of the unit in Japan there are too many people with too small a wallet to pull this one off. Hell, I won't have one for a good long time (being moping and self loathing session...)

Nintendo, both by numbers and revenue, will out perform both by percentage. They may fall behind in apparent gross earnings due to the higher cost of both competitors' boxes, but the low cost and high production numbers will ultimately put them in the lead worldwide for console sales and revenue.

Something else to remember: XBox 360 only has one prior system and a small smattering of downloadable content to count on for game revenue. PS3 has some 10,000 (approx.) games, both downloadable and physical. And the Wii has an ungodly number of games for download and due to the GC's library. I'm pretty certain that those of us who are market and brand whores (yes, you are, you're just in denial) will be paying for the games of our childhood all over again, mostly to Nintendo. All hail Miyamoto-san!

Gryyphyn, Section-9 out.

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