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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Console makers tout new features, but content is still king

Console makers tout new features, but content is still king

"While hardware makers tout chip speeds and polygon counts, it's the software that will determine most gamers' buying decisions for next-generation consoles. Part 2 of a series.

When Microsoft touts its Xbox 360, when Sony praises its PlayStation 3 (PS3), when Nintendo lauds its Revolution, it's the same pitch. All three forthcoming next-generation video game consoles are stuffed with the latest technology, support online gaming and are backwards compatible with earlier console versions. But what's most important to a video gamer, industry analysts agree, isn't the hardware -- it's the software. What games will each system play?

Content is still king, thank you very much.

That's why, when Microsoft threw its Xbox Summit 2005 bash in Japan this week, the star attraction wasn't the Xbox 360, it was the roster of more than 38 publishers and developers who had pledged their support for the new system, including such big-name Japanese content providers as Capcom, Konami, Sega and Namco.

Apparently Microsoft needs to prove that the Xbox 360 won't fall flat on its face in Japan the way the current Xbox did, which last year sold 21,000 units to the sizeable Japanese market, according to Media Create Co. Ltd., less than 2% of the 1.4 million PlayStation 2 consoles Sony sold there during the same 12 months.

"All three systems impress me for different reasons," says Anita Frazier, entertainment industry analyst for Port Washington, NY-based NPD. "But, ultimately, the system that has the greatest amount of proprietary marquee titles -- the ones that drive hardware sales the soonest -- will have the greatest ability to lead the share race."

She's talking about games like "Halo," which was released in November of 2001 and could only be played on the original Xbox console, which launched that same month. It sold more than five million copies, helping the Xbox top Nintendo's GameCube for second place in the U.S. market." [more]

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