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Monday, January 02, 2006

Consoles herald games revolution

Consoles herald games revolution

"Over the next 12 months, the most powerful piece of technology in the home is likely to be the games console in the living room, rather than the PC in the bedroom.

A lucky few have already taken the plunge into this brave new world of gaming, snapping up Microsoft's turbo-charged Xbox 360 home console.

Others will join this roller coaster ride into the next generation of video games with the arrival of new machines from Sony and Nintendo.

Both Sony's PlayStation 3 (PS3) and Nintendo's Revolution are expected some time in 2006.

"We're about to hit the crest of an extraordinary hardware wave," said Margaret Robertson, reviews editor at the games magazine Edge.

"It is hard to remember a time when there was this much exciting kit coming out."

New technologies

The new consoles reflect how the games business has matured. Video games are no longer the preserve of teens.

The average gamer in the US is 26 years old, according to analysts, and the industry was worth $25bn worldwide in 2004.

Every five years or so, the games industry goes through a major convulsion as engineering and computing advances open the door for more complex consoles.

And with the technology come changes that have repercussions beyond gaming, argues John Schappert, who runs Electronic Arts studios in Canada.

Xbox 360

"The PlayStation One was my first CD player at home," he said. "Nintendo's N64 brought the analogue controller. The PlayStation 2 became the DVD player in the home. The Xbox was the first console I played online."

'l'm pretty confident that the PS3 will be the first hi-definition DVD player in my home."

The new generation of consoles offer computing prowess to rival and exceed top end PCs.

Much of the talk surrounding the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 (PS3) has been about the graphical detail and realism of games.

Game makers are looking to tap into this power to make games which blur the line between fiction and reality.

"Our goal is to make games closer to reality," said Yves Guillemot, boss of French game maker Ubisoft, "to take you to something that, within two or three years, you won't know if it is real or not."" [more]

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