Next-gen Battle not so Simple

Things just got a whole heap more muddy in the battle for next-gen console supremacy. Despite falling squarely in the XBox fanboy camp, I had an inkling that Sony would kick some ass with their PS3, especially over the full lifecycle, with more grunt being discovered under the Cell architecture as developers got to grips with it.

But now Sony has insanely offered up a crippled $500 PS3, and a decent $600 version. Most significantly, the lower-end version lacks HDMI, and therefore true digital hi-def output. If Sony are trying to push Blu-Ray adoption, then why have they made this move? Surely the HDMI plug is a tiny addition in cost to the entire console, so the obvious explanation is that they dropped it to make the price differential between the two models make sense; in turn pushing consumers to buy the $600 version. We all know console makes suffer huge losses on these first-run consoles, and it looks like Sony is making such massive losses that they’ll cut off their nose in order to tempt more users to pay a tiny bit more and stem the bloodshed.

Microsoft has stepped up and offered a HD-DVD expansion to the 360 that will make most standalone HD-DVD players look insanely expensive. The 360 also lacks HDMI, but Microsoft have not ruled out some sort of cable adapter. Halo 3, and a new exclusive deal with RockStar will pump some gas into the 360, and no doubt we’ll see a chunky price drop (or free HD-DVD kit) come PS3 launch time.

Meanwhile, Nintendo potters along with their zany Wii and its crazy wand-controller, with rumoured $200 price point. Coupled with the possibility of back-catalog access, funky new game types, and Nintendo’s pedigree, will we see a shift in the fabric of next-gen console gaming?

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