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Why Microsoft and Sony should be scared of the Wii

Don Reisinger thinks Microsoft and Sony need to wake up and realize that the Wii is a major competitor. If not, they'll be destined to fail.

At this year's E3, Microsoft and Sony will be taking the stage to discuss the future of their consoles. After that, Nintendo will gloat about its success and take the opportunity to tell the world that its Wii is second to none.

Of course, during all those press conferences, Nintendo will be the only company to even mention its competitors. Microsoft and Sony, on the other hand, will only talk about the other and make it abundantly clear to everyone that Nintendo isn't being considered a real competitor to either firm.

And just in case you don't believe me, Sony CEO Howard Stringer at a conference last week said that he doesn't even think the Wii is on the same level as his company's console.

"I've played a Nintendo Wii," Stringer said last week at the Allen & Co. media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho. "I don't see it as a competitor. It's more of an expensive niche game device."

Sorry, Howard, but lest you forget, the Wii is very much a competitor of yours and if you keep thinking otherwise, you won't stop the butt kicking.

The Wii, Playstation 3, and Xbox 360 are all competitors and so far, the Nintendo Wii has taken the top spot. Sure, it may be priced substantially lower than the others, its library of games is much different, and the way you play the games doesn't mimic anything we've ever seen in a video game, but that alone doesn't make it any less of a competitor.

The way I see it, Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft are all vying for the same customers -- gamers. And although Nintendo has been able to entice other consumers into the space that had heretofore never had any reason to play games, we simply can't denigrate its performance and downgrade its ability to be a major success in this generation.

By its very nature, competition assumes companies are working against each other for the same dollars. And although Microsoft and Sony don't want to believe it, Nintendo is taking money out their pockets every day while they try to tell the rest of us that it's not really happening.

I'm awfully sick and tired of listening to Sony and Microsoft denigrate Nintendo and try to make it seem like it's not even in the gaming industry. On numerous occasions I've been told by both companies' PR teams that Nintendo isn't a competitor and that mantra has been repeated over and over by their CEOs and other top-level executives.

Here's a newsflash: when I go to Gamestop, Target, Wal-Mart, GameCrazy, and any other video game retailer, the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 is sitting right next to the Wii. And when people run down to their local Gamestop to buy a video game, they buy those Wii titles instead of Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 games.

Just because the Wii does gaming differently, it doesn't mean that it's not a video game console. According to Stringer, the Wii is just "an expensive niche gaming device," but I think that comment alone shows exactly why Sony can't get out of its own way in the business. If the Wii was just another niche device, it wouldn't be selling nearly as well as it does and whether Stringer and his cronies want to believe it or not, it wouldn't be beating the hell out of his console.

In reality, Microsoft and Sony are saying this to make themselves feel better. And while it may help them get through the tough times for a while, the reality of the situation dictates that they stop burying their heads in the sand and accept the fact that Nintendo is a major competitor.

If they don't, there's not a chance in the world that either company can supplant the Wii as the leader in this generation.

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