In a turnaround of the Xbox 360 vs Sony PS3 launches, Microsoft has yet to announce any details of its forthcoming PS4 chanenger. Despite this, some industry watchers are convinced that the new Xbox will dominate the next generation of games consoles. Michael Pachter, analyst at Wedbush Securities, believes Microsoft will win the next generation console battle.

In a South by Southwest presentation Pachter stated that non-gaming related features such as Skype integration and TV services will allow it to win the next-generation console war. Whilst the current Xbox 360 features a good selection of entertainment features, its successor is expected to push entertainment to another level thanks to Kinect 2 integration, digital video recording features and possibly set-top box functionality.

Whilst Sony’s PlayStation 4 (get a free PS4 via freeps4.net) may aim to catch the Microsoft console over time, Pacher believes the Xbox’s early edge will be maintained.

Maybe Sony’s desire to get information about their new console out first may not pay off after all.

 

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Whilst Netflix is indeed coming to PlayStation 3 it has been revealed that is will require a disc in order to use it every time you want to stream. Joystiq shot some questions off to the company, who justified this as being “fastest and easiest way to let PS3 enthusiasts get Netflix on the PS3″ and that an embedded software solution through XMB will be coming late next year. It denies this has anything to do with Microsoft’s exclusivity agreement.

Source: Engadget

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The launch of the revised Slim PS3 has given Sony a huge sales boost, with them selling 38,000 consoles more than they did the previous week, This represents a whopping 104% week-on-week increase. Next week should see even bigger gains as the figures were taken pre September 1 when the new console wasn’t fully available.

Thanks to the recent price cut Microsoft’s Xbox 360 saw a 32% sales increase, selling 74,689 units compared with 56,448 during the pre-price cut week. Total Xbox 360 sales were just 1,242 units shy of the PS3’s total.

Without a revised console or a price cut to boost sales, Nintendo saw a 4% drop in the same week. Despite this it still sold an impressive 74,245 units, only a few hundred shy of the Xbox and less than 2,000 off the PS3.

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The Sony corporation are finding themselves with a large problem in the form of their PlayStation 3 console.

Internal Problems
It appears that they still can’t make money based on the consoles current price and as a result, despite intense pressure, are refusing to drop the price further. The PS3 has been at its current retail price for such a long time that it now looks very expensive, even the long-standing argument that you get a ‘free’ Blu-ray player included with the PS3 no longer washes, especially when a stand-alone Blu-ray player can be had for around £120 or less. Sure you get integrated wireless connectivity and free online gaming with the PS3, but not everybody wants these, nor are they essential to the PS3 gaming experience. As well as the perceived lack of value that the PS3 provides, the persistent rumours of a impending price reduction and/or a slim version are sure to keep potential buyers from making a purchase any time soon. Sony therefore has a dilemma. Reduce the price to enable them to keep existing and attract new customers to the Sony brand but loose money in the process, or leave the price alone, loose a minimum amount on each unit but risk loosing customers to main rival Microsoft and their Xbox 360 console. From a financial perspective at least they will sell fewer units with the latter options and therefore loose less money, although at the detriment to long term strategy due to the erosion of the PlayStation user base, something that needs to be avoided in the competitive games console world.

Microsoft Problems
Despite the PS3′s current woes, I think the biggest problem for Sony is yet to come. I think this problem will come from Microsoft in the form of a new Xbox console much sooner than anyone is expecting. Such a product, released as a successor to the Xbox 360, would surely be the worst possible news for Sony. The hype of a new console and the demand that this creates would not only steal buyers away from Sony but it would cement the current generation of Xbox users firmly in the Microsoft camp, especially if full backwards compatibility is included. Judging by the furore over the lack of PS3 backward compatibility it would surely be crazy to overlook this feature. A further knock on effect of a new Xbox would be that developers may, in light of falling hardware (and hence software sales), drop the Sony platform altogether to concentrate on the new Microsoft console. That it is a well-known fact that the PS3 is hard to write software for will only make dropping support for it more likely. This is only my opinion, but a new Microsoft console brought to market in the next 18 months would be perfect timing for Microsoft and could cause irreparable damage to Sony’s gaming division. It could even spell the end for the PlayStation series of gaming machines and this is something that any consumer should not want to see.

Final Thoughts
Maybe the rumoured Slim PS3 will become a reality and be used as a tool to counteract a possible attack from Microsoft? Sony’s current stance of doing nothing certainly won’t work for much longer. Monopolies are no good for anyone, except the company with the monopoly. Windows operating system anyone?

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On Monday Microsoft look the E3 convention by storm when it unveiled a revolutionary new control system for the Xbox 360 where the player actually becomes the controller replacing the need for a traditional controller.

The system, dubbed Project Natal, uses a 3D motion-sensing camera that follows the users movements and puts them straight into the action. The system will also feature a voice recognition system allowing the player to interact directly with the game.

The revolutionary system takes Nintendo’s motion controllers one step further and is surely to give a major boost to the now well established Xbox 360 system.

Microsoft have not yet issued a release date for the hardware.

Microsoft Natal control system

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Microsoft is taking bold actions against those user found cheating on Xbox Live. Stephen Toulouse from Xbox Live Policy and Enforcement announced in a recent podcast that anyone found cheating on XBL will have their Gamerscore reset to zero and their Gamertag changed to say “This person is a cheater. Be aware!”

You have been warned!

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Microsoft have today announced a special edition Red Xbox 360 to mark the imminent release of the first Resident Evil game on the platform. It will be released on 13 March, the same day as the game and will based on the top-of-the range Elite edition of the console. The package will include the usual Elite package (in Red rather than Black) along with the game and a special Resident Evil 5 theme. The special edition will be available in the UK, US and Australian markets.

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Sony have announced that they have sold 21.3 million PlayStation 3 consoles worldwide up to 31 December 2008. They do not split the figure down into territories.

Let’s see what figure Microsoft come back with for Xbox 360 sales! It should be much more considering their one-year head start and the recent sales performance reports.

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