[There was a hiccup in the mail system, so I had to resend this.. It was actually written on Friday, I promise!]
From a gaming perspective, this week has been something of a calm before the storm. Microsoft’s holiday flagship title, Gears of War, launched and is in stores and gamers’ hands, but as popular as it has proven with critics and gamers, it’s not really succeeding at the obvious attempt to detract attention from the impending Wii and PS3 launches.
After years of speculation, and almost a year of Microsoft’s next-gen monopoly period, Sony and Nintendo’s new hopes are on the verge of being unleashed on the world. Of course, how much this will affect the South African scene in the short term is debatable. Nintendo products have a history of lackluster distribution in this country, and I doubt the Wii will be very different. South Africans also seem to have a terminal fear of doing anything that may seem even slightly wacky (other than the friggin ‘Leeu Loop’) so I am not convinced the Wii’s unique approach will be appreciated by most.
Sony on the other hand has had a stranglehold on the local market for two generations now, and even the PSP is doing really well compared to the DS, especially if considered in the context of Nintendo’s worldwide handheld dominance. Of course we will not see any PS3s at retail here until March next year (and I’m doubtful about even that date), and while the console may seem expensive to Americans and Europeans, thanks to our brutal exchange rate it will most likely be downright impossibly priced when it does launch here. Our sole local PlayStation hardware distributor, Ster Kinekor, has a history of overpricing gaming prices and this persists today, with the PS2 still selling for around US$160 here in most stores. US$600 is an insane amount of money for even middle income South Africans, and I doubt very much we will see it released at that price here-more than likely Ster Kinekor will throw in another $50-$100 for (their) good measure.
I am by no means saying that the Xbox 360 will be a runaway success just yet in
Of course this is all speculation and only time will tell. For now I’ll stick to trying to finish all the guild quests in Oblivion, and waiting impatiently for the release of Viva Piñata. Gears who?