Can you survive An Unholy Return: The 31 Games of Halloween?
On Running Feuds
And the Real Winner Is ... ?
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on January 15, 2007   |   Episode 122 (Show Archive)  


Sure everybody can have a good time with the Wii, but that doesn't mean Nintendo is the overall winner!
All across the country millions of video game enthusiasts are asking one question. It's a question that is being hotly debated on forum after forum, a question that has no simple answer. Now that we're out of the 2006 shopping season there's only one thing left to figure out ... which company came out on top?

As you might imagine, all three companies have issued statements that claim that they were the real winners. This has led to mass confusion on the internet forums, fanboys everywhere are being forced to spin the numbers in ways they never could have imagined. But maybe that's the wrong way to look at it. Maybe this year wasn't about having a clear winner and loser. Maybe all three companies do have reason to celebrate after all, even if common logic says that we should praise one and tear the others down. Maybe we can all get along after all.

The idea of having a winner and a loser is a natural narrative for journalists, you see it all the time when it comes to politics, TV ratings and the video game hardware war. The fact that so many people use a word like "war" suggests that this is more than just a friendly competition; this is something where you need to pick sides and call everybody else unpatriotic. But this narrative doesn't apply to what happened in the 2006 holiday buying season. This time around there was no clear cut winner; instead we have three companies that have real reasons to be happy with how things turned out. This is

Here Bill Gates demonstrates a console that definitely did not win the 2006 holiday shopping season!
one of the first years where the actual numbers didn't matter; this isn't an issue of who sold more next generation consoles. And while this is no doubt confusing for people want this industry to be black and white, this is probably a good thing for everybody who wants to believe video gaming is growing up.

Let's take Microsoft as an example. After a slow launch that was plagued by disappointing games and very few available units, the Xbox 360 managed to battle back in 2006 with a strong line-up of games and enough consoles for everybody. Gears of War upped the high water mark for graphics and sound, something that none of the other consoles were able to hit (regardless of their price tags). At the end of the day Microsoft managed to move more consoles in the United States than anybody else, something that they will no doubt hold over Nintendo and Sony's heads.

But wait a second, just because Microsoft sold more units that shouldn't mean that Nintendo can't claim victory as well. For a month straight the Nintendo Wii was the only game console the

With games like Viva Pinata and Gears of War it was hard to forget about the Xbox 360!
news media talked about, dubbing it the "must have" gadget of the year and spending valuable airtime covering Wii injuries. It seemed clear that Nintendo's push to make this appeal to more than just hardcore gamers had worked; all of a sudden people that never even thought about playing games before were excited to give it a shot. Picture after picture of business men, grandparents and other non-gamers surfaced on the front of newspapers and websites. Nintendo's next generation console may have been hot, but it was also extremely difficult to find. People stood outside of every store they could think of all through December trying to pick up this $250 game system, something the media parroted day after day. There's no doubt about it, the Nintendo Wii was a major hit.

And it wasn't just the Wii, either. This past Christmas both the Game Boy Advance and the

Zelda is the one (and only) reason to buy a Wii in 2006, thankfully it was a damn good reason!
Nintendo DS sold like wildfire, something that the Big N should be very proud of. While it's a bit much to say that if you combine all of their systems they come out ahead, it's true that they had a fantastic holiday season all around. The fact that the Wii did not outsell the Xbox 360 certainly has more to do with the system's production supply, but even then they weren't too far behind Microsoft when it came to the best selling system.

And that leaves Sony. Unlike Nintendo, the media wasn't especially nice to Sony this time around. Time magazine, for instance, called their PlayStation 3 a "bust" and has spent the last twelve months putting down the PSP every chance they have. But even with all this negative press Sony's various systems can still be considered successes. While the PlayStation 3 may

Don't look too excited, dude! You just spent $600 on a system that has one good game!
not have sold as many units as the Xbox 360 and Wii, they also had less to go around. The ones that did make it to retail sold quickly, even despite the system's high price tag. If anything Sony should be complimented for convincing a million people to buy a $600 system that has one good game.

And then there are all of those other Sony systems, such as the PlayStation 2 and the PSP. The PlayStation 2 managed to hold its own for what will likely be the last time, and the PSP sold a million units in the holiday shopping period. Some analysts have suggested that the PlayStation 2 did a little worse than expected, but even if that's true it's hard to call Sony's holiday a "bust."

As you can see all three of these companies have a convincing argument, and none of them is the clear leader. Microsoft may have outsold the competition when it came to next generation units, but how many original Xbox systems sold this past season? At the same time we

Even if Nintendo does end up winning this generation's battle, this guy will always be considered a loser!
could come up with pros and cons for both Sony and Nintendo, nobody is without criticism this time around. But maybe that's not the point. Maybe this year isn't about who wins and who loses.

There are people out there that are writing off certain systems based entirely on this one holiday season, despite that this generation could conceivably go for another four or five years. At the end of the day this one holiday period isn't going to matter as much as some people think. In fact, if anything the 2007 holiday season is even more important. In 12 months we will have a more accurate gauge of who is winning and who is losing. But for now it's too close to call.

Microsoft tells us that the first company that makes it to the 10 million unit mark is the winner (they have, coincidentally, made it to the 10 million unit mark), but are the other companies playing

If Mario and Sonic can get along then why can't Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft?
but those rules? It's not unrealistic to believe that once the triple-A software starts rolling out both the PlayStation 3 and the Wii could give the Xbox 360 a run for its money. There is still a lot of time in this generation and anybody who thinks that they know how it will play out is blind to the ways the industry works.

So for now perhaps we should all take a big step back. As much fun as it is to yell and scream about how your favorite company is winning, there is no real winner yet. Actually, that's not entirely true. Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft may all be on equal footing at the moment, but that doesn't mean there can't be a winner. And frankly, at this moment the winner is YOU. The idea that there will be one true system this time around is a fallacy, and that's a great thing for all of the people out there who love this industry. There would be nothing better than to see this "war" stay nice and close, that way all three systems could have their day and the competition would breed great games and innovation. Will things stay as close as they are now? Who knows? But I do know that you can't take much away from this past holiday season. So all of you fanboys on the message boards, it's time to just get along!


Did Critics Like Duck Tales in 1989?

From Night Trap to Corpse Killer!



Missile Cards

The Crow's Eye

comments powered by Disqus