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"X-Box, Gamecube and PS2 Fight for Holiday Sales" 

Now that the holiday shopping season has arrived, the three big players in the console wars (Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft) are hoping to get a leg up on the competition. Of the three, Sony starts this race with a rather substantial lead having had a year to sell the Playstation 2 (PS2) with very little competition and after winning the previous battles with the original Playstation, it finds itself in a much tougher fight this go around. With Sega out of the game and Microsoft’s entry, it remains difficult to see who will ultimately prevail. So, if you are on the fence about which system to buy this year, we’ll take a quick look at the three of them in the hope that you can choose the best system for you.

While many will argue that the X-Box or the PS2 or the Gamecube is the best system, I’d prefer to stay away from those arguments. They are all very good consoles! With that out of the way, let’s take a quick look at what the three have to offer. The X-Box is the new entry and makes the others nervous because of Microsoft’s marketing savvy and money. To go along with the marketing machine, the system specifications for the X-Box also appear to be the most appealing. Most articles that look at the three systems usually go on to discuss how many millions of polygons the systems can display per second and how fast their DDR RAM is. However, while these areas are definitely important, it is the availability and quality of the games that will determine this winner. With that in mind, we’ll focus our attention on the games that are coming out for each system.

Most early game releases for the X-Box appear to be adult related while those from Nintendo appear at the opposite end of the spectrum. While there are certainly kid’s games for the X-Box, it is undoubtedly the Gamecube which will continue to garner the most attention from young game players. Parents with young children will probably be swayed by the child friendly designs and lower price tag offered on the Gamecube. The PS2 is arguably the most well rounded of the three when it comes to game play as it has had a year to prepare for this holiday season and in that time has had a chance to stockpile a large variety of games and developer support.

The current world leader in hardware sales is obviously the PS2 as it was first released last year. Sony was very successful with the original Playstation, selling roughly 80 million units of the ever-popular system. It has been estimated that by the end of November, the Playstation 2 will have sales numbers of roughly 20 million, a fairly large lead in a tighter spending economy. And with huge sellers like Devil May Cry and Metal Gear Solid 2, the PS2 has games that will continue drive its sales. The X-Box and Gamecube also have big name titles exclusive to their systems, so this argument is really a wash.

One aspect of the systems that is not equal is DVD movie playback which is offered by the X-Box as an add-on and comes standard on the PS2. While an extra $40 is really not all that much to add the capability to the X-Box, it may give the PS2 a few extra sales. This factor alone will probably not hinder the Gamecube as it sells for $100 less that either of the others. Also, since many of its games cater to young children, it probably is not an issue. However, with several very good adult games available for the Gamecube, Nintendo probably should have opted for the use of standard DVD’s on their system instead of a proprietary format. It could have helped them pull a few of the X-Box or PS2 players in their direction.

So what does this all really mean? At this time, it’s anyone’s guess who will ultimately win this war. The only safe bet is to purchase the system that has the most games that appeal to the player the system will be used by the most. For young kids, it’s probably the Gamecube while teens and adults will probably be more interested in the PS2 and X-Box. With the lead that Sony has, it will probably continue to head this market for the immediate future. Microsoft and Nintendo are hoping to shrink this lead in the years to come to gain momentum for the next go around. Wonder how long it will be before the PS3 or X-Box 2 hit store shelves?

 - by Clayton Crooks

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