According to an analyst over at Screen Digest discussing video game trends with Economist, not only will the Playstation 3 beat out the Xbox 360 in this generation's console war, he fully expects Sony's console to surpass the Wii by 2011.
The reason: as more games become available for the Playstation 3, more people will find a reason to buy the console, which will propel Sony to the top spot.
Although I can see where the analyst is coming from, I think he's dead wrong. Will the Playstation 3 overtake the Wii? Absolutely. But will it beat out the Xbox 360 when it's all said and done? Not a chance.
Why Sony will beat Nintendo
As I've mentioned before, Sony and its newly refreshed Playstation 3 will kick the Wii to the curb.
Sure, with its current success, it's easy to think that the Wii will always stay atop the list of the most popular video game consoles on the market. But at what point will everyone realize that the Wii is a fun device to play when a group of people are around, but quite boring when it's just you?
I think it has already happened with current Wii owners. A quick glance at October 2007 video game sales figures show that the Wii only holds two out of the top ten places with Guitar Hero III and Wii Play.
And if that means nothing else, it tells you one important fact about Wii owners -- they really only play a handful of games and don't bother to buy most of the games that are currently available for the console.
As I've said before, the Wii is a novelty device that doesn't have the long-term appeal that the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 do. Is it a fun console to use? Sure. Are there some good games? You bet. But is there enough of a software offering and downright appeal to entice gamers to buy a Wii over a Playstation 3? Right now, it does. But within the next year, look for Wii sales to slump as the PS3 continues to grow.
Suffice it to say, the Wii is a fine device, but it's not going to continue selling this well and if Japanese console figures are any indication of the rest of the world, Nintendo won't be selling more Wii units than Sony going forward.
Look for the Wii to end this console war in third place.
The Xbox 360 will take the day
Why has everyone just about written off the Xbox 360? Let's not forget that it was the first entrant into this generation and to this day, it's still selling quite well. And although it no longer holds the top spot for most consoles sold (it has the Wii to thank for that), I truly believe it will win this war.
Remember those October 2007 sales figures I mentioned? Well if you look at that list again, you'll find that the Xbox 360 accounted for three of those spots and was tied with the Playstation 2 for most games on the chart. By the way, the Playstation 3 didn't even make the cut.
Perhaps most astounding from the report by the analyst is his assertion that the Playstaion 3 will surpass the Xbox 360 in 2008 and never look back. Huh?
Doesn't this analyst know that in the US alone, the Xbox 360 has sold more units than both the Wii and Playstation 3? And doesn't he know that in worldwide sales, the Playstation is still millions of units behind the Xbox 360?
Now, just because the console is behind now, it doesn't mean it can't surpass the Xbox 360 and contrary to what I may believe may happen in the end, I think Sony has a shot at surpassing the Xbox 360 for at least a year during this console cycle. But in the end, the Playstation 3 will fall to the Xbox 360's side because of software.
At this point, there is no debating the fact that Microsoft has been successful because of its relationship with developers and the general consensus from developers is that development for the Xbox 360 is much easier and far more efficient from a money-making standpoint.
More than anything else, this is where Microsoft will be able to take the day. If developers prefer to create games on the Xbox 360 and they find that development on that console is most advantageous, what's the impetus for those same developers to create compelling titles on the Xbox 360? And while this industry is full of game porting, if you currently own an Xbox 360 and more and more games are ported to other consoles, why would you want to buy new hardware to play the same game you can already have on your current machine?
I commend Sony on reducing development costs in an attempt to coax developers to its side and I think its decision to drop the price of the PS3 was an intelligent one. But in the end, when console sales start to dwindle and people are only buying hardware because of the games that are available and not those that will be available, Sony's console will start to falter. At the same time, Microsoft's Xbox 360 will continue to sell well and eventually take the day. Just look at either console's upcoming release calendar and you'll know what I mean.
And in the end, the tried and true trend in gaming will still be true: innovation and advanced technology are great, but it's the games that matter. And when it comes to the variety and appeal of games, Microsoft commands the market.