The New Consoles from Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony
Microsoft is the last of the three big video game console makers to unveil its latest gaming system. The unveiling comes nearly eight years after the Xbox 360 went on sale. It follows last fall’s debut of Nintendo’s Wii U and a preview in February of the upcoming PlayStation 4 from Sony.
Each machine has a set of features designed to draw gamers away from rival consoles. There’s one thing all three have in common, though: They are about more than gaming and include entertainment services such as television, movies and music.
Here’s a closer look at the three systems. More details are expected at the E3 video game conference in Los Angeles next month.
- Wii U (Nintendo)
The Japanese gaming company launched the Wii U, the follow-up to its popular Wii, in November, making it the only new console out for last year’s holiday season. The console features a tablet-like controller with a touch screen, called the GamePad, which can be used to control games on the TV set or to play games separately, as you would on a regular tablet computer. It also allows someone with a GamePad to have a different experience with a game than someone playing it at the same time with a regular Wii controller.
The GamePad also serves as a fancy remote controller to navigate a TV-watching feature called TVii. The service groups your favorite shows and sports teams together, whether it’s on live TV or an Internet video service such as Hulu Plus. And it offers water-cooler moments you can chat about on social media.
Unlike the Wii, the Wii U features high-definition graphics. In doing so, Nintendo’s system catches up to the years-old Xbox 360 from Microsoft and the PlayStation 3 from Sony.
Sales of the Wii U have been disappointing, with 3.5 million sold as of March 31, the end of Nintendo’s fiscal year. Nintendo Co. had originally expected to sell 5.5 million units and later lowered the forecast to 4 million, but it still fell short.
Price: Starts at $300 but some retailers have offered it at lower prices.
- PlayStation 4 (Sony)
Sony shared some details about the PlayStation 4 in February, but it didn’t show what the console would look like. The company said the PS4 would essentially be a "supercharged PC," much like the Xbox. That’s a big departure from the old and idiosyncratic PlayStation design and should make it easier for developers to create games.
But the adoption of PC chips also means that the new console won’t be able to play games created for any of the three previous PlayStations. Players will have to stream older games over the Internet.