The road to the next generation in home-console gaming could have been subtitled A Tale of Two Marketing Strategies. Microsoft's Xbox 360 had its own viral marketing campaign (via Ourcolony.net, the sanctioned source of many leaked photos preceding its launch) and rode a glitzy wave of publicity that encompassed high-profile keynote speeches and a star-studded MTV special. Meanwhile, aside from sporadic press releases touting the power of the company's next-generation Cell processor, we heard little to nothing from Sony and its highly anticipated PlayStation 3; fans hoping for "official" leaks of teaser images and hard specs were left disappointed.
Now the wait is over, the veil of secrecy has been lifted, and the gloves are off. In Sony's favor, the PlayStation 3 appears to have a technological edge over the Xbox 360, boasting next-generation Blu-ray DVD compatibility and a graphics processing unit capable of pumping out pixels at the hitherto unimaginable--for console gaming--1080p high-definition resolution level. For its part, Microsoft's console will use current-generation DVDs, with resolutions topping out at 1080i and 720p. That's still high-definition, but in a future where 1080p televisions will be the gold standard of HD performance, the PS3 wins the numbers game. However, Microsoft has one major advantage in the coming battle: time. The Xbox 360 hits stores in time for the holidays this year, well in advance of the PlayStation 3's 2006 release date. Furthermore, Microsoft has deviously announced that Halo 3, the latest sequel in its staggeringly popular shooter franchise, will deliberately launch on the same day as Sony's new console.
Sure, some have questioned whether gamers really even need a next-generation console so soon. But when the choice is between two systems whose processing specs are measured in teraflops (read: they're fast), the likely outcome is that both consoles will be tremendously successful.