MEDIA WATCH: Media declares numerous winners in video game bonanza

There's talk that the US is already in a recession, but the video

game consoles are flying off the shelves this holiday season. Microsoft

and Nintendo recently launched the Xbox and the GameCube, respectively,

in a challenge to Sony's PlayStation 2 (PS2), which has been on the

market since late last year. For its part, Sony, the market share leader

in the gaming industry, just introduced its "Metal Gear Solid 2" game,

which the Chicago Tribune (November 19) described as "the most

anticipated game of the year." Taken together, these events have sparked

a frenzy of interest in the $20 billion interactive video gaming

industry.



Preliminary media coverage indicates that stores everywhere are having

demand for these consoles that far outstrip supply. Newspapers reported

that kids camped out on the sidewalk outside consumer electronics stores

in order to make sure they could buy one the first day they were

available.



Business Week (November 19) noted that Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony

have allocated more than $1 billion worth of marketing to promote

their respective products.



Microsoft being Microsoft, its launch of the Xbox drew plenty of

attention from the media. There seemed to be mixed reaction to the Xbox

in terms of it being the software company's first move into hardware for

video games. For the most part, the reviews of the Xbox itself were

highly favorable, yet a bit cautious about its $299 price tag. A

number of articles couldn't say enough good things about the Xbox's high

quality graphics While playing "NFL Fever 2002," you can see the sweat

on the football players' faces, a young gamer told The Harrisburg

Patriot (November 16). The fact that Xbox enables online gaming was

often mentioned, but rarely discussed in detail.



In analysis of how Microsoft and the Xbox will fare in the gaming

industry, there was more debate about whether it would be able to

capture a sizable share of the market at the expense of Sony or

Nintendo. Sony was credited with being the industry leader with a strong

background in consumer electronics, while Nintendo was often cited for

its experience in the video gaming industry. These reports indicated

that Microsoft might not have an easy time entering the gaming

market.



Reviews also saw an advantage for Sony in that its PS2 has been on the

market for more than a year and is still selling well. Articles pointed

out that the significance of this was that the initial sales frenzy was

over and new buyers would have no trouble finding the PS2 on store

shelves. Furthermore, there are hundreds of games available for the PS2,

while both the Xbox and the GameCube consoles are each compatible with

only a handful of games so far.



Interestingly, there were a few reports that positioned the software

companies as the big winners in the console wars. Companies that hedge

their bets and provide games for all of the different consoles were said

to be the biggest beneficiaries of the increased interest in the gaming

industry.



Of course, the public is also benefiting from all of this intense

competition for market share as these three companies battle it out for

their money with ever-more realistic games for consumers of all ages. No

doubt gamers everywhere will be asking Santa for one of these three

consoles.



Evaluation and analysis by CARMA International. Media Watch can be found

at www.carma.com.



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