Although Nintendo was not an official participant of the Tokyo Game Show, which took place this past weekend, it still ended up being a three-way battle.
Sony Computer Entertainment’s PlayStation 3 and Nintendo’s Wii, along with Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox 360, were all competing for the attention of the crowds, which packed the exhibition halls in what was the biggest of all Tokyo Game Show events so far.
The main battle was between PlayStation 3 and Wii. Consumers had an opportunity to test Wii consoles, thanks to the developers of Wii games, who had brought in the machines as well. Xbox 360 has been available in Japan and the United States since last year and in Korea since early this year, and was relatively less popular, but some games exclusively for the Xbox 360 platform such as Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey had people waiting in line for hours.
PlayStation 3 and Wii are due to hit shelves on Nov. 17, targeting Christmas shoppers.
Heat at the game show was intense, boosted in some part by scantily-dressed young women in cosplay outfits (anime costumes). Adding to the hubbub, Ken Kutaragi, head of Sony’s video-game business, held a press conference while the show was taking place, and made a strategic announcement that Sony would cut prices of the 20-gigabyte PlayStation 3 console to 47,600 yen ($627), but only in Japan. Sony has never before announced price cuts before even releasing its products. This brings down the price of the console to about the same price range as a basic Xbox 360 that has an external high definition DVD player. (This HD DVD player also debuts on Nov. 17.) Even with the discount, however, Wii is still half the price of the PlayStation 3, and comes with a unique remote control that has a wand-like design that one can bang around like a tennis racket or “cast” like a fishing rod.
Analysts, however, believe that Sony’s price cut had to do with fear of the budget-priced, savvily-designed Wii and that it’s a local battle in Japan of Sony versus Nintendo. If you take a look at figures provided by Media Create, Microsoft sells between 900 to 1,100 Xbox 360 consoles per week in Japan. On the other hand, PlayStation 2, more fondly referred to as the PS2, sells even now at a rate of 20,000 units a week.
by Wohn Dong-hee