Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Gaming Market Heats Up as Players Duke it Out in Online Video

With E3 Expo currently taking place in California, it's prime-time for the gaming industry. And all three major console manufacturers have made some really promising announcements.

While Nintendo is extending its focus on family-friendly and physically active games, both Microsoft and Sony are duking it out in the online video arena. Both companies will be offering movies and TV shows for rental and purchase through their respective consoles and online counterparts. Microsoft has even kicked things up a notch further to partner with movie rental company Netflix. But which service is more enticing?

The answer is both for U.S. consumers, but neither for Canadians. Why? Because neither movie offering has been extended to Canada...yet, at least. While a spokesperson for PlayStation Canada implied that Canadians would be able to enjoy the feature eventually, Microsoft would only state that the partnership with Netflix doesn't extend to Canada. Indeed, to my knowledge, the Netflix video service in and of itself isn't available here, so that would definitely have to happen before Canucks could even dream of using it through their Xbox 360s.

Nevertheless, here's a run down of both services:

Sony's PlayStation 3 video download service will offer:
  • Almost 300 full-length movies and more than 1,200 TV episodes from major studios like 20th Century Fox and Sony Pictures Entertainment; as well as exclusive content, like a Sony-produced anime series

  • Rentals from US$2.99-$5.99 each that must be viewed within 14 days. Once playback begins, the viewer has 24 hours to watch it; and purchasable videos for US$9.99-$14.99

  • The ability to transfer to and view videos on a PlayStation Portable (PSP)

  • Full integration with the PlayStation Network

  • Instant video playback

  • A searchable database
Microsoft Xbox 360's video download service will offer:
  • Access to Netflix's library of more than 10,000 movies and TV episodes

  • Instant video playback

  • Requires a Netflix subscription (starts at $8.99/mo.)

  • Ability to fast forward, rewind, and pause video using the Xbox 360 controller or media remote

  • Individual "Queues" where players can store selected movies and TV shows for later playback

  • No additional cost per video

In addition to competing with one another, both services will also be competing with existing Canadian video download services from the likes of Bell and Apple TV. With either gaming console already positioned as part of a customer's home theatre system, and customers already actively visiting their respective online marketplaces for content like video games and movie trailers, Sony and Microsoft could very well have greater appeal in this area.

Meanwhile, Nintendo remains in a league of its own, focusing on creating 3D-like motion with a new MotionPlus attachment for the Wii Remote; and enticing new gaming titles that involve everything from beach and resort sports, to animal-populated virtual worlds where players can chat with one another and bid on friend's possessions.

Gaming certainly has come a long way from the days of two rectangular-shaped "paddles" and a dot we once called a ball.

[Photo: by Frank Lenk].

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Mehar Gill said...

What do you mean by instant playback, do you mean streaming?

Jaybird said...

The video thing seems really cool... too bad that we don't get it in Canada, that might be something I would actually sign up for. Surround sound movies without leaving the house? that would be sweet.

I hate the avatar idea.... why do we need to copy the wii? Is this what the majority of 360 owners are thinking? I wish I had a lame looking avatar?