By Craig Zammit

LOS ANGELES, USA: The three biggest names in video games – Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony – converged on the 2006 Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) held in Los Angeles this week to the reveal prices and specifications of their next generation video games consoles.

Sony announced the PlayStation3 (PS3) will feature new movement sensitive controllers and a vast array of high end features.

Featuring the RSX and Cell processor and its Blu-ray drive, the PS3 has the technical edge over its competition, though all is not as it seems.

The PS3 will be deliberatley positioned in the premium price range, with consumers asked to pay $350 more for the PS3 than for Microsoft’s Xbox 360, which retails for $649.

The PS3 will be available at two price points; $999 for the 60GB hard disc drive version and $829 with a 20GB hard disc drive.

The $999 premium PS3 includes a memory card slot for increased storage space and easy convergence with other digital devices, HDMI output for simple high definition playback and a Wi-Fi wireless internet connection. However, the $829 version does not contain these features, making it a questionable purchase at the price it demands.

Another concern for the PlayStation3 revolves around its new wireless motion sensitive controllers.

Nintendo announced months ago that it would be pioneering a new controller technique which, through the utilisation of sensors placed on a user’s TV, would allow the movement of the player’s controller to be picked up in 3D space and translate it into on-screen movement.

Sony has employed a similar technology into its controllers, with the major difference being that the PS3’s motion sensing technology is contained within the controller, removing the need for extra sensors.

This leads to the PS3 controller losing the 3D element, which is so integral to the Nintendo version. Additionally, while Nintendo will have 27 games at launch incorporating the movement sensing capabilities, Sony will have just one.

However, it’s important to note that Nintendo’s next generation console, Wii, which is expected to launch in the fourth quarter of 2006, will be aimed at an entirely different market to the PS3 and Xbox 360.

Nintendo’s mission will be to provide new experiences for ‘every person, every day’ – regardless of age, gender or gaming experience.

Nintendo has not attempted to produce a universal entertainment hub; instead it has made a gaming machine. Its aim is to focus of fun, not fancy features and graphics.

For Xbox 360, major second generation software titles will be released next year, including the final instalment of the succesful Halo series, with Microsoft looking to impress gamers with unprecedented visuals and gameplay.

Also announced at E3 was Microsoft’s initial entry into high definition DVD drives, an external USB HD-DVD player, allowing users to play high definition DVD’s via their Xbox 360.

Microsoft also revealed a bevy of additional accessories for the Xbox 360, including the Xbox Live Vision camera.
Xbox Live Vision will incorporate gesture control technology, which will allow gamers to use their own body as the controller, as well as seamlessly integrating their image into the games.

Also announced was the Xbox 360 Wireless Racing Wheel for racing enthusiasts, the Xbox 360 Wireless Headset for hands-free in-game communication, the Xbox 360 Memory Unit (256MB) and the Xbox 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver for Windows which allows gamers to use their Xbox 360 accessories on a PC.