Three years ago, when EDN last covered gaming consoles in a Hot Technologies edition, that industry was at a notable inflection point. Sony had been shipping its PlayStation 2 in the United States for a little more than a year; the company had launched the PS2 in Japan almost eight months earlier. Microsoft's Xbox was a month old, as was Nintendo's GameCube.
Fast-forward three years, and all three consoles are success stories to varying degrees and defined by varying measurement criteria. Look at the Xbox, for example; on the one hand, Microsoft has, according to a recent article, lost $4 billion over the last four years on the console. On the other hand, Microsoft reported in January that, by the end of 2004, the Xbox worldwide unit market share was 37 percent, up from zero two years earlier and against long-established console competitors.
The gaming industry had reached another crossroads as this article went to press in late November. Microsoft's Xbox 360, barring a last-minute introduction delay, will, by the time you read this article, have launched in all three primary geographies: the United States on Nov. 22, Europe on Dec. 2, and Japan on Dec. 10, with the first wave of consoles likely sold out. Introduction dates for the Xbox 360's primary competitors are unknown; for now, Nintendo will say only that the Revolution unveiling won't be until some time after March 2006. However, the company recently asked game-industry insiders to mark their calendars for a May 9, 2006, press briefing-the first day of the E3 conference (Electronic Entertainment Expo). As for the PlayStation 3, a recently published interview with Howard Stringer, Sony's chief executive officer and chairman, hints at a spring-2006 rollout in Japan, with U.S. consumers not getting their hands on the console until the end of next year. This year also marked the unveiling of several significant next-generation handheld gaming consoles.
For more of this article, written by Electronic News sister publication EDN, click here.