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The Console War – Three Decades and Counting

With the recent release of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and the upcoming releases of Sony’s PS3 and Nintendo’s Wii, gamers a like are becoming more aware of the fierce competition and tactics used by these three major players of the video gaming industry.

It all began in 1972 with a unit you may remember – Magnavox Odyssey. While Magnavox’s efforts were short lived, they are still remembered to play a heavy role in the establishment of the home-based video game console. Of course Atari was next in line with a new and back then ‘evolutionary’ game – PONG. As simplistic as the game was, it was loved by consumers worldwide and helped launch Atari’s name into the ‘big books’.

The newly created gaming industry was gaining strength and the general consumers interest. However as 10 years passed the video gaming industry was about to crash. In 1983, consumers criticized the lack of quality console games with the emergence of home-based computers, gamers began to lose faith in the console. Breaking the silence in late 1983, Nintendo introduced the Famicon (Nintendo Entertainment System). With the release of the Famicon came the birth of Super Mario Bros. a signatory series to the Nintendo brand.

Nintendo’s dominance was challenged by Sega who entered the market with their Master System. Despite Sega’s efforts, their Master System barely captured any market share and made little profit. The company refused to face defeat and soon there after released the Mega Drive/ Genisis in 1988, two years before Nintendo’s release of the Super Nintendo (SNES).

Moving along, the video gaming world became divided into the 32-bit vs. 64-bit machines. The first wave of systems that entered the market was the 3DO and Atari’s Jaguar. While both systems were powerful for their time, neither was able to outperform Sega or Nintendo who both dominated the market until 1994. On December 3 1994, Sony launched its Playstation system and enjoyed a successful launch. Nintendo followed 2 years later with their 64-bit offering, the Nintendo 64. Even at this stage Nintendo made the controversial decision of releasing a cartridge based system arguing that it would reduce load times and minimize piracy.

Sega fought back one last time in 1998, releasing the Dreamcast. While Sega’s efforts were strong, the company failed to make ends meet when Sony released the successor to their first console – the PS2 (in 2000). In 2001 Nintendo released it’s Gamecube targeting a younger market. Both companies had established their own brands and proved themselves to the gaming community. Sony’s system was challenged in 2001 when Microsoft entered the arena with their Xbox.

We are currently in a new generation of console gaming. While Xbox 360 is currently available the ps3 and Wii are due to release later this year. Previously, Sony dominated in market share, however this is forecast to change with the new generation of gaming. More than ever it is critical to offer the greatest innovation, greatest power and most of all the greatest games.

So who will dominate the market this generation? This is difficult to answer, however as a gaming enthusiast, I strongly believe that competition between the three companies ultimately means better games for you – the gamer.

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