Thursday, May 25, 2006

Console Pricing

So, with Nintendo's announcement today, we now know at least the general price points of the latest generation of gaming consoles. For those who haven't been paying attention, we have the Xbox 360 out now for $300 to $400 depending on whether you want the real system or the gimped one. The Sony PS3 is going to go for $500 to $600, again depending on whether or not you want the gimped system. Now Nintendo has announced that the Wii is going to be $250 at most.

Personally, I'm rooting for the Wii. With its low price point, innovative controller, and focus on gameplay over technology I think it gives Nintendo the best chance in years to gain back market share. Meanwhile, Sony seems determined to give up its leading position by going with a high price point, a late launch, and a gamble that the built in HD-DVD player is somehow going to justify it all.

Before the price announcements from Sony, I figured that I'd end up getting all three consoles eventually. I already have a 360, and I plan on getting a Wii when it comes out. At $600 though, the PS3 is going to need some truly awesome games for me to consider getting it.

The HD-DVD player is a non-starter for me. I don't even have an HD television yet, and doubt that I'll have one by the time the PS3 comes out. I have a huge DVD collection for which I don't need an HD-DVD player. I can't think of anything in my DVD collection that I would seriously consider buying again just to have in HD format. There are, of course, technophiles that will get everything they can on HD-DVD, but most of them will be buying the more expensive stand-alone HD-DVD players rather than the PS3.

The average console consumer is not a hardcore technophile or gamer. The average console consumer is the parent of a gamer. Those consumers are going to be faced with a choice between a $250 Wii and a $500 PS3, and they're not going to have to think about that choice for more than a few seconds. Even "little Billy" for whom the console is being bought is going to think twice about demanding a PS3 when faced with the option of a PS3 and one game, or a Wii and several games.

The result of all of this is that all three consoles are on more or less an even basis at this point. The 360 has the advantage of being first out of the gate, and will be able to continue to leverage that along with its more reasonable price point, that may just drop some as the Wii and PS3 come out. The Wii has its low price point and high level of innovation going for it. Sony is busy squandering its lead in the market by trying to leverage it to push its HD-DVD format, which allows the other two consoles to catch up to it.

It's going to be interesting to see just what happens as the remaining consoles are released.


rhythmspitter said...

earlier in the year i was thinking i would get all 3 consoles (for the first time). but if sony keeps screwing around, i will be delaying the ps3 purchase until i see a good library and online experience. i'm happy with my 360 and the xbox live innovations. i can pretty much say that getting the wii is a done deal (despite the stupid name), unles the new controller is really broken. i took a chance on the ds and i really like the different "games" and gameplay it offers. that has probably been a big influence on the wii decision.

Fulminata said...

Yep, the Wii is also supposed to interface with the DS, similar to how the GBA interfaced with the GC. They didn't use it all that much, but it was cool when they did.

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