Only a Game has an interesting musing up on who's winning — or potentially will win — the battle for the 'hardcore' market share. Nintendo is rather clearly running away with the so-called 'casual' market, but that still leaves room for Sony and Microsoft. Chris Bateman takes the opinion that Sony has managed to squander the biggest market lead in the history of gaming, but that doesn't mean it's easy sailing for Microsoft:
The battle is far from over, and Sony have more up their sleeve right now than Microsoft appear to be able to muster, but by stealing hardcore loyalty from their market rivals, Microsoft has gained an edge that could allow them to give Sony a seriously bloody nose this time around. But if it came to 360 versus Wii in a battle for the mass market, Microsoft should save their warchest and call it quits - it may be the hardcore gamer's ideal machine right now, but even in a dream scenario the 360's installed base is probably going to top out at about 40 million (not coincidentally, roughly the size of the installed base of Sony's hardcore-friendly PSP handheld).
The Wii might not have the legs to beat Sony's 140 million PS2's, since that was the consequence of a convergence between gamer hobbyist and mass market support which doesn't exist now that the console manufacturers have torn the market dynamic into two very different halves, but with a good tailwind it could match or exceed the 75 million DS handhelds Nintendo have sold. I suspect it will outsell the 360 by 2:1, perhaps 3:1.
And the PS3? It's final unit sales may depend more on the uptake of the Blu-ray format than anything else, so at least it will help Sony with the promotion of their media format, even while it teaches the multinational the lesson the N64 taught Nintendo: you still have to be nice to people when you get to the top, as it's a long way down...
I'm still irritated with Sony for a variety of reasons, most tied to the lead up to the PS3 release, but Bateman points out some PS3 features that may broaden its mass market appeal (e.g., Blu-ray). I'm am so not looking forward to whatever these companies have to dish out the next 'next-gen' release time around, which hopefully won't be for a while. In any case, the essay is worth a read — an interesting analysis of what is and what may be happening.
The Battle for the Hardcore [Only a Game]