Monday, July 11, 2005

Who Won The Race This Generation (Part 1?)

With the next generation of consoles rapidly approaching the horizion (November, to be exact), let's stop and look back at this generation, notably who "won" and who "lost" the race. Now, many of you (or whoever happens upon this blog) pretty much assume, nay, clamour that Sony has won the race this generation. But did they really?

Winner Of Largest Install Base: Sony

Clearly, Sony managed to get themselves in more homes than Nintendo and Microsoft combined, even if they had the most inferior hardware. Attribute this to the DVD playback capabillities out of the box (which is what made it an initial hit in Japan), backwards compatibillity, the largest library of titles, the strongest third-party releationships and a little game we like to call Grand Theft Auto 3. There is just no doubting that the PS2 dominated in homes, wether you like it or not. It's mainstream appeal and overall game lineup was just tough to beat.

Winner Of Actually Making Money: Nintendo

While Sony is in more homes than any other system, Nintendo is the only company of the three that actually made (or lost the least) money this generation. Microsoft took a huge hit in profits from day one with the Xbox, selling it for less than it cost to produce. Sony was the same story. I'm not sure how Nintendo did it, but they seem to be the only first party company to make, or at least lose little money. While an install base is great for boasting, the real bottom line is how much you're making, and Nintendo won this battle.

Winner Of The Online Arena: Microsoft

Sega may have been the first company to actually get people to play online with the Dreamcast, Microsoft had the best model of how online gameplay should be ran. Perhaps this didn't fare well with developers at first (especially EA) since they didn't have much control over online play (Microsoft handles all accounts and servers), but this is a more organized and uniform approach than what Sony did. Microsoft also excells in the online arena due to downloadable content, which keeps games fresh. Microsoft is really banking on Xbox Live for the Xbox 360 to pull them through in the next gen race, and if they keep things running as well as they do now, XB360 will be the gamer's choice for online gaming.

Right now, it seems like a draw on who really won the race, but the realitiy is that each company excelled in different areas than others. In the future, we'll look at more dimensions to see if there is a definite winner this generation. As for now, it's a 3-way tie.


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