Console Wars and the Seattle Freeze
Since I'm having issues with my VPN and getting to work today sounds like a hazardous venture, I thought I'd post another quick opinion post on the console wars since the "battle has truly begun" with the Wii and PS3 released in the US and Japan (the world's two largest console markets).
Tossing my MS bias aside, I bought a launch Wii. I camped out at a store in Redmond since I heard a rumor that it is the "secret official" Nintendo/Redmond launch store where they would have an alleged 200 consoles in stock. The rumor was accurate and I received a console 3 hours after their midnight launch and played it for about 30 minutes before passing out from camping exhaustion. My first impression of the Wii was that it was graphically unimpressive to the point where it nearly detracted from enjoying the game I played, Twilight Princess. I also felt like playing the Wii was different enough from playing other consoles that it feels like something other than traditional gaming.
The next day I convinced my girlfriend to play Wii Sports with me. She loves the Wii. Everything from the physical interaction that you get with the controller interface to playing the classic Sega Genesis game, Sonic (she had a Genesis growing up) were right up her alley. From my personal experience with her, the Wii is going to be a hit with the casual gaming crowd. I would guess that many people who would never game on other systems would game on the Wii.
What's interesting is that, since getting the Wii, I really haven't been compelled to play it that much. Twlight Princess is fun, but I've been totally hooked on Gears of War (GoW) and Tony Hawk Project 8 on my 360 lately. Just my personal preference lately but the 360 really is the console for me as far as gaming alone goes. I tried out the Video Marketplace over the holiday and it seemed pretty interesting (even though there were technical difficulties when I tried to download content) and I would be totally stoked on it if it were a little less expensive. I also downloaded Small Arms, which is a surprisingly fun brawler.
Both Robbie Bach and Phil Harrison said after E3 that "the Wii is not our competitor" and after buying and playing with one, I tend to agree. The Wii really is not enough console to satisfy the needs of a "hardcore" gamer. There can not be a jaw droppingly good looking title like GoW for the Wii, it is not capable of doing it, but the Wii's target audience (like my girlfriend) really probably doesn't care. I on the other hand, do care, and that is why I bought a launch 360 -- to ohh and ahhh over the scenery of Oblivion and GoW. Speaking of Oblivion, this is a good segway to the PS3.
As far as the PS3 goes, I haven't played one. I haven't even seen one because they are soo scarce. I have, however, spoken with a proud owner who claims "Tony Hawk Project 8 on the PS3 is awesome" and "It's too bad the wireless controllers have to be plugged in to work, but Sony will work it out." I actually haven't heard of the wireless controller issues in any magazines or on the normal gaming news websites, but I am surprised that the launch title that won this owner over was a cross platform title. I don't really mean to trash talk the PS3, but it really doesn't look like it is recovering from the negative publicity it has been generating since E3. I'm starting to wonder if Sony has some sort of card up its sleeve however.
So, my current opinion is Wii+360. You can take my opinion with a grain of salt because I work for the big M, but I'm not totally convinced that the PS3 offers the value that the PS2 did at launch. I honestly can't make a complete or very meaningful prediction yet, but I feel confident in my personal forecast for at least for the next few months. We'll still have to wait a little longer before any of the consoles seems to have enough leeway to be declared the "next PS2" or "next SNES". Once the PS3 and Wii are available everywhere and have meaningful exclusives, then we will really know who is positioned to control the market this generation.