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Your holiday gaming outlook

With the Xbox 360 surging in sales, Don Reisinger tackles what will happen next.

Halo 3
Halo 3

Now that NPD has released September 2007 figures, it strikes me as quite interesting that so many people were taken aback by the Xbox 360's jump to first place in hardware sales. In fact, if you remember an article I wrote back in September, it would have told you everything you needed to know about hardware sales for September.

But instead, there are a host of journalists and pundits making such a big deal out of the Xbox 360's rise, as if it wasn't expected. As I've said here hundreds of times before: videogames sell consoles, not the other way around.

So, with that in mind, I thought it would be nice to take a look at what is coming soon to a console near you and discuss what I think will happen by the time January rolls around. And while I still believe the Wii is a fad and Sony has some work to do, my conclusions may surprise you.

Microsoft Xbox 360

Xbox 360
Xbox 360 CNET

Generally speaking, it's Microsoft that has the most to worry about this holiday season. I believe the Xbox 360 will take the day when this whole console battle is over, but all in all, it looks like the next few months will be tough.

A quick glimpse at the Gamestop release calendar will tell you everything you need to know for this holiday season. In a word, the games lineup is mediocre -- at best. Sure, games like Call of Duty 4, Assassin's Creed, and Mass Effect will be hitting shelves, but only the latter will be exclusive to the Xbox 360. And to be quite honest, it's the exclusive titles that will shape this holiday season.

Microsoft has already done what it had to do -- get Halo 3 out the door and enjoy unprecedented hardware and software revenue. In fact, the release of Halo 3 solidified the company as a major player in this business for years to come. But the main problem with its strategy of releasing the game so early is the lack of true hardware-sellers. Sure, Mass Effect looks neat, but is it on par with a game like Halo, which is the main reason the majority of people bought an Xbox 360 in September? I doubt it.

Overall Xbox 360 outlook for the holiday season: mediocre.

Nintendo Wii

Nintendo Wii
Nintendo Wii CNET

I expect the Wii to have a huge holiday season once again. With Super Mario Galaxy around the corner, some are touting it as the biggest jump in the franchise since Super Mario 64.

All in all, I think it's safe to say that first-party franchises have always dominated Nintendo consoles, and the Wii is no different. And regardless of what you think about this, it works for Nintendo.

With an expected November 12th release date, Super Mario Galaxy couldn't come at a better time for Nintendo. Not only will it make every Nintendo fan jump for joy, it'll force parents to make a decision -- should I buy it for my kids now or use it as a gift for the holidays? I guarantee the majority of people will choose the latter.

Historically speaking, Mario games have always helped sell Nintendo consoles. And with the Wii hype dying down, Super Mario Galaxy is exactly what the company needs to stimulate sales and add some fuel to the dwindling fire of hype.

Overall Nintendo Wii outlook for the holiday season: strong

Sony Playstation 3

Sony Playstation 3
Sony Playstion 3 CNET

With Sony's decision to drop the price of the Playstation 3 to a far more affordable level, I believe the company will enjoy a significant surge in sales this holiday season. And while I have some issues with the upcoming catalog of games (it's a bit weak), it's strong enough to justify people spending their cash on the device.

As I mentioned above, the Wii will have a strong holiday season. Along those lines, the Wii will probably be sold out for much of the season and people will be standing in line once again. And for all of those who weren't able to pick up a Wii, the Playstation 3 will be the next logical choice.

Think about it: you're standing in line for a Wii and you're told it's sold out. Knowing all too well that your kids want a new video game console, the affordable Playstation 3 is sitting there for the taking. So, in a rush to get holiday shopping over with, you ask for the Sony console.

Now, will all Sony sales end up this way? Not a chance. In fact, you can probably expect a significant growth in sales from the price drop alone. But it certainly won't hurt that the Wii will be sold out again and the PS3 will not, will it?

Sony made the right move because, well, it had to at this point. Expect to see Sony surging in the numbers.

Overall Sony Playstation 3 outlook: moderate to strong