TGS - Gamers' expectations of the next-gen consoles

It's an important weekend for the PlayStation 3 and Wii as the Tokyo Game Show opens to the public.

It's an important weekend for the PlayStation 3 and Wii. With the Tokyo Game Show open to the public gamers get their first chance to play the consoles and the perceptions made here could go a long way to influencing purchasing decisions when they go on sale later this year.

We spoke to several visitors as they headed into the show to find out their expectations and buying intentions regarding the PlayStation 3 (PS3) from Sony Computer Entertainment (SCEI) and the Wii from Nintendo, as well as existing platforms, such as the PC, cell phones and Microsoft's Xbox 360.

To conduct our vox-pop survey, we stopped 40 people at random - approximately half were Japanese and half overseas visitors. Because many hard-core game fans own more than one console or handheld machine, multiple answers were allowed. Although unscientific, our survey bears out a few general perceptions of the likely fate in store for the major players.

Of the Japanese respondents, most (14 of 22 total responses, or 54 percent) were interested in trying out the PS3, whereas just 30 percent of non-Japanese visitors made SCEI's console their priority.

Even though Nintendo is not at the show, its Wii console was the one that overseas visitors most wanted to get their hands on (12 of 27 responses, or 44 percent); the only person who would actually commit to buying anything was a Canadian who wanted a second Nintendo DS Lite handheld console. Among the locals, 27 percent intended heading straight for the Wii games on show from the likes of Sega.

As for Microsoft's Xbox 360, no Japanese professed an interest, leaving just four visitors admitting they planned on taking a look at the most-mature third-generation console. Such discouraging news for Redmond was, however, tempered by a visit to the Xbox 360 stand on the show floor, where waiting times for new games, such as Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey, stretched to almost three hours at times.

Finally, in our impromptu survey, two people singled out PC games as their main interest, one from each side of our crude regional divide and, although the market is huge and growing, no one admitted to coming to the show specifically for cell phone games.

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J Mark Lytle

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