Why won't Sony or Microsoft admit Nintendo is a competitor?

Don Reisinger thinks Nintendo is a direct competitor to both the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3. And he doesn't understand why neither company is willing to admit it.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
3 min read

Whenever I read a Sony or Microsoft press release or meet with company representatives, they're quick to point out that Nintendo's Wii console isn't a competitor. Why? They claim it's because the Wii does gaming differently and is more of a "casual" platform than a "true" gaming console.

It didn't get any better Monday when Microsoft sent a press release detailing the Xbox 360's performance on Black Friday. According to the company, its console sales "were on pace to beat previous years, outselling the PlayStation 3 by a three-to-one ratio and estimating a 25 percent increase from Xbox 360 Black Friday sales figures from 2007."

Microsoft even worked Europe into its gloat session by detailing how well the Xbox 360 performs across the continent: "Xbox 360 sales have also surged worldwide since the September price drop, outselling the PlayStation 3 week over week across Europe."

Did you happen to see anything missing in those two statements? Was it a mention of Sony? Nope. Was it a mention of the Playstation 3? Not a chance. Was it the Wii and Nintendo? Show her what she's won: a Wii!

It shouldn't come as a surprise. Earlier this year, Microsoft's Aaron Greenberg, director of product management for the Xbox 360, said the Wii isn't a competitor at all.

"I think for us, we don't really see the Wii as a direct competitor, we actually very much complement the Wii experience," he gushed. "It's obviously clear that we're going head-to-head with the PS3 in this generation."

Sony isn't innocent either, of course. Just a few weeks later, the company's CEO, Howard Stringer, told Bloomberg that he's played the Wii and he's not impressed.

"I've played a Nintendo Wii," he said. "I don't see it as a competitor. It's more of an expensive niche game device."

And yet, as Microsoft and Sony continue to focus on each other, it's the Wii that led the way on Black Friday and became the most desired product across retail locations worldwide. And we can't forget that that "niche gaming device" that isn't a "direct competitor" has almost outsold both the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 combined.

Call me crazy, but when I go to Target or Gamestop and I see the Wii sitting next to the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 and I consider the fact that they all play games from the same developers (many of which are the same), have the same general price level, and provide the same basic experience, I'm inclined to believe they're competitors.

There's no debating the fact that the Wii provides a different way to play games, but it's equally undebatable that it's a competitor to the Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360. Are we supposed to believe that Microsoft's decision to drop the price of the Xbox 360 Arcade to $199.99 wasn't to compete on price with the Wii? Are we supposed to believe that Sony's DualShock 3 controller's Sixaxis functionality isn't the result of the Wiimote?

Give me a break.

The Wii is a direct competitor to the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. What does it hurt to say that if you're Sony or Microsoft? I just don't get it.

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