Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony: The Future

This thought has continued to cross my mind ever since Sony mentioned their plans for the PS3 are for the long haul. I kept thinking to myself, how in the world could they really come back from the terrible sales they have been accumulating ever since the holiday season ended back in early January? Well a few things have lead me to believe, as far as the future is concerned, Microsoft could be the one in the most trouble. Now hear me out; I personally don’t think Microsoft is in any real trouble considering they are the current market leader and with Halo around the corner I don’t see any real issues with them for the very near future. But this is about the future, not the rest of this year.

I'm going to point some things out and you let me know if I am sitting on an island with these thoughts. If you were to ask anyone who is currently still deciding whether or not to buy a PS3 their main, if not only, reason would most likely be the price. Many feel like there aren’t any good games, but let’s be honest, there are some good games out now and some great games coming. But there are not enough great games out to warrant the high price the system is currently sporting. On the same side of the coin is the Wii, except it has a low enough price to make the number of good games currently available on the console seem like a viable decision. I would be willing to argue that Microsoft is the only console that currently has a legitimately solid lineup of games and a price point to match, one advantage to launching a year earlier than the competition.

Neither Sony or Nintendo have really shown, or should I say proven, their online strategies up to this point. There really is a chance that Sony’s Home could end up doing everything Xbox Live does but with the benefit of costing nothing to consumers and giving it a little more personal touch. I won’t try and argue what Nintendo could potentially do with their online plan because, honestly, game-specific friend codes can never be as flushed out as Live or Home. So it can be argued that Microsoft is the only company that has truly shown all it's cards when it comes to online. Now you could mention the new keyboard and being able to IM people on MSN, but in all reality, that's not really advancing consumers opinions on the 360. Someone still unsure of the Xbox isn't going to see that and think, "Hey, maybe I do want a 360." Sony's Home, however, does bring those consumer friendly thoughts to consumers minds. I'm not saying that Xbox Live isn't a selling point because it totally is, which is part of my point. It is such a well designed online gaming network and still it's not selling systems like hotcakes. Sony has sold a decent amount of hardware and they have yet to release their online infrastructure to the public.

So with Microsoft having as great a gaming library as they do, having a totally flushed out online experience, and nearing the price point of the Wii (for the Core system) do they really have much more to show? Considering they are floating around 10-11 million install base right now, which isn't much for having a year head start, could they be in trouble in the long run? Could the next 5 years really allow the unshown cards of the rival systems to overtake Microsoft's early start? Nintendo's Wii is already well on its way and Sony needs nothing less than to drop the price in a year. But then again, if Microsoft can use Halo as a new launching point, it could be too late. Obviously only time will tell but it is something to think about.