There Can Only Be One Winner as Xbox Takes on PlayStation; COMPUTER GAMES: Loyalty and Power of Brand Names to Be Put to the Test in High-Stakes Spectacle

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), March 14, 2002 | Go to article overview

There Can Only Be One Winner as Xbox Takes on PlayStation; COMPUTER GAMES: Loyalty and Power of Brand Names to Be Put to the Test in High-Stakes Spectacle


Byline: RICHARD EVANS

IF you've never understood the appeal of computer games, you're unlikely to have been queuing up to celebrate Xbox Eve last night.

Stores in Cardiff and the UK's other major cities opened at midnight just so dedicated gamers could get their hands on Microsoft's new and hugely hyped games console, the Xbox.

The computer gaming industry isn't generally known for its understatement and, true to form, the Xbox promises to "blur the line between fantasy and reality" - an intention you can also find in Andre Breton's 1925 Surrealist Manifesto, incidentally.

But if you were tucked up in bed when the Xbox landed last night, that could be for two reasons - either you prefer your own dreams to those created by Microsoft, or you're a staunch PlayStation2 loyalist.

Microsoft's long-awaited entry into the world of games consoles is poised to spark a battle between the Xbox and the PlayStation that may well be fiercer and more hard-fought than the blood-thirstiest combat simulator on the market.

Sony's PlayStation2 is the world's favourite games console - 26 million people from Guatemala to Gwauncae-Gurwen have one of the little black boxes at home.

Its last serious competitor, Sega's Dreamcast, fell by the wayside and PS2 - the affectionate nickname by which its fans know it - has ruled the roost ever since.

All of which brings us to Bill Gates.

Microsoft has long dominated the PC market - far too much so, according to critics - but has never tried making a console, until now.

The Xbox, then, is going head-tohead with its only real competitor, the massively popular PlayStation2.

And - to borrow the rhetoric of the computer game itself - there can only be one winner. But given the nature of gaming and gamers, the marketplace battle is likely to depend on more complicated factors than simply which machine works better.

As impenetrable as it seems from the outside, computer gaming comes complete with all the same loyalties, prejudices, snobberies and allegiances you'd find in the worlds of golf, skiing or historical re-enactment.

Of course, the relative abilities of the two machines certainly have their part to play, and the Xbox certainly seems to have the edge in this area.

Take the graphics.

The quality of these is measured in polygons per second - don't ask us why, just accept it. The more the polygons, the more realistic the graphics. …

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