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Kinect, Move & Nintendo

Another major factor is the introduction of Kinect and Move. While both were reactions to the popularity of the Nintendo Wii, they represent a clear decision on the part of both Microsoft and Sony to reinvigorate their consoles mid-life rather than replace them. The decision may have additional R&D costs which, like the consoles, will have to be recouped but it allows the technology to evolve before the next generation consoles arrive to take gaming and living room entertainment to the next level. Considering the state of the economy these incremental upgrades are smart, bringing new gaming experiences without the cost of buying a new machine or starting a new games library.

 

Of course all this seems at odds with the bashing I gave to Sony's impending PSP2, but there are differences. Being portable the PSP is attacked by the phone and in launching the Xperia Play this is clearly something Sony recognises.

By contrast it will take some time before phones have a) the power and b) the storage (given the dwindling of microSD) to compete with home consoles. Then again with the seemingly imminent arrival of quad core handsets that will pack in 128/256GB of storage and have a direct connection to your TV via HDMI (or a wireless equivalent), you never know how things could turn out come 2014 - would Sony dare launch the PS4 based on Android?

 

There is also another fly in the ointment: Nintendo. At present talk is a second generation Wii will break ranks and launch much earlier. E3 2012 is the hot favourite. While the Wii has lagged behind the Xbox 360 and PS3 the new console is, unsurprisingly, said to be faster than both. Yes it is unlikely to be faster than Microsoft and Sony's next gen consoles, but in the meantime the bump in power could finally attract hardcore gamers, especially if Nintendo can keep the price down. And lest we forget Nintendo doesn't get a lot wrong. The Wii remains by far the best selling console of the current generation, having shipped over 85 million units.

So yes risks are there. However it is impossible to argue that, all things considered, Microsoft and Sony have done anything but a thoroughly satisfying job with both consoles. Yes, they've never quite been perfect and have had their fair share of slip-ups along the way but by remaining sternly stuck in their ways they've provided a welcome relief from the otherwise relentless onslaught that is the tech world. Where phones, laptops and televisions all demand our constant attention and destruction of our finances the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 - red rings of death aside - have allowed us in one purchase to sit back and simply enjoy using them for years. It may be terribly anti-gadget to say this, but long may they continue…

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