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Nintendo Wii vs Sony PS3

PS3, Sony, Nintendo Wii

BODY TALK Wii’s success - it has sold around six million consoles worldwide in just six months, against 2.67m for the PS3, can partly be explained by Nintendo’s avoidance of a common misconception: gamers are couch potatoes. Wii’s unexpectedly large sales prove that players actually enjoy standing up, jumping and swinging, taking an active part of the action instead of being stuck in a hunched position. This must explain why Sony, which broke new ground in terms of graphics, creation and power, finally introduced gyroscopic sensors on its controllers.

For PS fans, the more powerful and sophisticated PS3 does a fine job in addressing committed and veterans gamers. The Wii aims at creating a new style of gaming, attractive to both experienced players and newcomers who could buy the console on impulse. “Wii reinvents games for the devoted player,” says Nintendo of President Reggie Fils-Aime. “But more importantly, Wii breaks the wall separating players from non-players.”

It’s true that the Wii is neither a Blu Ray disk player (unlike the PS3) nor HD compatible. But the Wii is creating its own playing field, at half the price of the PS3.

SONY’S WOES Was Sony too confident of Playstation’s undisputed pedigree (exactly the same mistake that Nintendo did back in the SuperNintendo days)? The initial price for a PS3 - $999 for one with a 60GB hard drive and $829 for a smaller 20GB hard driver - may have deterred many potential players who then have probably given in to the much more affordable $249 for the Nintendo’s Wii and $49.99 for its first-party titles.

Early on, Sony reconsidered - a bit - this cocky approach and the PS3 console that was released in the Middle East on March 22 2007 (a day earlier than in the other PAL regions for some reason) was sold for a better price than in the West: $680 for the console (the 60GB exclusively) and $62 for first-party games. Fact is, in the region, Sony had to fight off competition by retailers who openly started importing through unauthorized channels consoles and games not intended for release in the region, but which were already available in the US and Japan (since December 2006).

“Unofficially imported Playstation 3 consoles will not be covered under local warranties and therefore cannot be repaired or replaced through official channels, while the Blu-ray movies available in this region will not be compatible with PS3’s imported from Japan and North America”, warned Tim Stokes, sales and marketing Director, PlayStation Division, adding that “prices of unofficially imported machines are likely to be greatly inflated.”

Disappointingly for Sony Gulf, these warnings and the promotion through the Playstation online gaming Network (with a James Bond Casino Royale Blue Ray disc movie offered to purchasers registered) didn’t help much in a region where, due to the absence of direct outlets to products, stores have to import most entertainment related products and where retail price of a PAL system is almost the same as an import one.

FIGHTING BACK As a result, in October 2007 (in time for the holiday season), Sony targeted the Saudi market by reducing the 60GB pack to $587 and introduced a new 40GB model at $480 (including the Spider-Man 3 movie Blue Ray disc); the line-up of titles was extended to 65 games. Significantly, Sony inaugurated at the same time its Playstation Internet stores, giving access to over 235 downloadable items.

In this highly staked fight, Sony may still have the upper hand, by the simple fact that first, the Wii hasn’t released a big budget game yet (but some of its games start featuring in guest appearances characters designed by Konami, a regular supporter of PS3) and second, Nintendo has no Middle East representation. So in this duel for gamers’ hearts and fingers, it may turn out that Microsoft’s Xbox 360, that benefits from the computer giant’s presence in the region, may gain momentum and soon become a solid contender.


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