Once again we find ourselves in the midst of the games industry's biggest season. The Triple A titles are flowing like free booze at the office Christmas party, and the major hardware players are building their bundles and hoping for a bonanza.
According to the games analysts at VG Chartz around 37 million units of console hardware will be sold worldwide in the eight weeks leading up to the end of the year. It's going to be an interesting - some might say decisive - period. At the moment Nintendo's Wii is by far the biggest seller of the current console generation. Figures from Game - the UK's biggest specialist retailer - put sales at 3.6 million in September. At that time the Xbox 360 had sold 2.3 million and the PlayStation 3 1.4 million. Will Sony use this period to catch up with Microsoft? Will family friendly software and aggressive price cuts help Microsoft widen the Xbox 360's reach? By January, we'll know.
As always, though, our focus isn't on the numbers, but on making sure that anyone going out to buy a console as a family gift or a Christmas treat makes the right decision. This year we're going to do things a bit differently. We know that one console does not fit all, and that different people want a games machine to do different things. That's why we've split up our buying advice into a set of buyer profiles, with general advice and a definitive verdict stating what machine we would choose, were we in your shoes.
Please note that we're not going to go too far into features and specifications this time around, though we will note new additions or enhancements where appropriate. For full details of the machines in question, check the following reviews:
The thinking behind every decision is this: knowing what we do and seeing ahead as far as we can, how would we use our own hard-earned cash if we were buying a console right now? If you don't agree with the criteria or verdicts feel free to make your opinions clear, but please keep the discussion friendly.