October 1st, 2006, 20:52 Posted By: wraggster
Over the years, the industry has shown a knack for granting no more than two consoles a fighting chance at any given time. Atari and Intellivision were doing fine in the early 1980s until ColecoVision crashed the party. Then you had Nintendo and Sega own the next few console generations, easily vanquishing systems like 3DO and Atari's Jaguar.
The elasticity of that theory was stretched when Microsoft rolled out its Xbox in 2001. At that point, Sony owned the market with its PlayStation and had introduced the PlayStation 2 a year earlier. Nintendo was the distant silver medallist in the process of upgrading its gamers to the GameCube platform.
Microsoft's introduction came at Nintendo's expense as Sony was able to own two-thirds of the global market. However, with Microsoft and Nintendo running neck and neck domestically, the industry was able to absorb all three players as legitimate standards. Game publishers were left with little choice but to service all three systems, even though both Microsoft and Nintendo made sure that they had their own proprietary "must have" franchises to keep their owners loyal.
Four years ago, I suggested that Nintendo drop out of the console race and stick to its handheld and software strongholds. I don't see it that way anymore. In fact, even though Nintendo is taking some pretty risky chances in launching a revolutionary system, I think the climate couldn't be better for Nintendo.
However, before digging into the prospects of Nintendo, it's important to explore why the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are vulnerable.
I'm one unhappy camper when it comes to my Xbox 360. I had to ship it out to McAllen, Texas, two weeks ago when I got the dreaded "three red flashing lights" hardware failure error.
It's a common flaw. Microsoft even has an entire page devoted to it, and it's also one of the prompts on its customer service line. I've owned just about every major console since I was old enough to earn an allowance, and this is the first one that went bonkers on me within the first year of ownership. Thanks to what I see as a pretty skimpy warranty -- and my boneheaded ways for not looking into an extended warranty -- I'm out $139 plus shipping. I still don't know if I'll be getting my original unlucky machine back or some other refurbished reject, but at this point, my faith in Microsoft is about as buggy as my 360.
Naturally, I reserve the right to change my mind once Halo 3 hits stores next year. Until then, I'll just gripe about seeing red (literally) and feeling gypped after overpaying for software titles that don't offer a whole lot more than their sixth-generation versions.
Then we have the PS3. The company has teased gamers with product delays. Now, a problem with its Blu-ray drive finds the company nearly halving the number of units it expects to have on the market in time for this year's holiday selling season. The price tag -- at $499 to $599 -- is also steep given the limited resources of younger gamers.
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