Originally written for eVent! [ep] magazine on 10/19/06.
For the rabid video gamer Monday October 16th was more than just your typical fall Monday, it was Line Up Day, the day that stores began accepting pre-orders for the Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii both to be released shortly. If you did not get up at the crack of dawn or camp out outside of a shopping mall to be one of the first to put their name down for the new videogame machines, well let's just say that your Christmas shopping just got a little harder. With five major videogame systems set to do battle this holiday season where will you be spending your gift dollars, and what will you be driving from store to store trying to find? Read on.
Console: Nintendo Wii (pronounced We)
Release Date: November 19th, 2006
Christmas Availability: It's not clear how availbe the Wii will be. The pre-order units are all claimed, but unlike Sony Nintendo is not having to cut back orders, so you could possibly see some on shelves for Christmas if you're lucky
Notable Games: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Wii Sports
The Scoop: Nintendo got tired of playing third clarinet in the orchestra that it started (the home videogame market) and so instead of competing on graphics and processor speed decided to go in another direction with the Wii. Rather than touting its' graphical abilities Nintendo has focused on the fun factor, and made a system that sounds like it's going to be shockingly fun. Remember, videogames are supposed to be fun. They're also going for the non-gamer market, one that they've been successful in reaching with their portable Nintendo DS. By making games that are fun, unique and appeal to a wide range of non-traditional gamers and combining that with a price that isn't going to need you to mortage your house the Wii is well positioned to be the must-have Christmas gift. You'll be looking to buy one of these for everyone from your young daughter to your thirty year-old shut in brother who lives with your parents and nobody can understand because all he talks about is how Frank Miller's right to shun Hollywood.
Console: Playstation 3
Release Date: November 17th, 2006
Christmas Availability: If you haven't pre-ordered by now you might be able to buy one by April.
Notable Games: Resistance: Fall of Man, Tony Hawk's Project 8, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
Cost: $549 for the basic configuration, $659 for the full setup
The scoop: Sony's third Playstation home system is by far the most expensive and technologically impressive system out there. Hindered by production problems, and a release date that kept shifting further and further away it however will only be a story this holiday season because of the fact that you won't be able to buy one. There will be less than one million units available in North America this year, and if you haven't already pre-ordered one you won't be getting it unless you pay through the nose on eBay. Kelowna will be lucky to see 10 maybe 20 units in total this year. My advice, don't do it. Most of the same games will be available on the Xbox 360, which you can already buy, and the graphics difference isn't that extreme to make up for the extra cost of the PS3. Even the addition of BluRay, one of the two possible successors to the DVD movie, doesn't make it worth it.
Console: Xbox 360
Release Date: Out Now
Christmas Availability: It's going to be on shelves, though maybe buying one in November as opposed to late December is a smart idea just in case.
Notable Games: Gears of War, Marvel Ultimate Alliance
Cost: Around $500
The Scoop: After being the hard to find gift last Christmas it might seem that the Xbox 360 is old news, the fact is though it offers everything that the Playstation 3 is going to offer, costs less and is available now. The pending release of a HD DVD player for the console will allow owners to take sides in the upcoming format war as Sony's Blu Ray battles everyone else's HD DVD to see who is the Betamax and who is the VHS of the new generation of home movies. Unless you're rich, or a videogame fanatic, you're most likely going to own either the Xbox 360 or the Sony Playstation 3. For the money, and because you're going to be able to buy one before next April, my money is on the Xbox.