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Xbox 360: still the only next-gen console you can buy

Xbox 360: still the only next-gen console you can buy

Despite the hype surrounding the new wave of game consoles, one fact remains--Microsoft's Xbox 360 remains the only next-gen system on the market, an exclusive status it has held since November 2005. While Sony and Nintendo will be the media darlings of this year's E3 show, Microsoft hopes to gradually build on its first-mover advantage to gain market share and the respect of an oft-critical gaming press.

On the hardware side, we might see an HD-DVD add-on for the Xbox 360 console, but we'd say that's even money at best, especially with the lukewarm reception the first generation of stand-alone HD-DVD players have received. Some pundits predict a price drop to keep consumers interested when the PS3 (allegedly) launches in November--we say no way.

You probably won't see too many console-exclusive killer apps for the 360, barring an unexpected appearance by Halo 3. Still, 360 exclusives such as Dead Rising, Viva Pinata, Lost Planet and Gears of War (making its second E3 appearance) do look promising, and because of the console's structural similarity to a PC, some games, such as Prey and Huxley, will be available on PCs and 360s only.

Lastly, Sony has long been known as the master of E3 exclusivity, with its infamous party wristbands, but Microsoft takes the cake this year, dispatching bar-coded metal clips to its press conference attendees, in lieu of the more traditional at-the-door guest list.