E3, the biggest event in games is taking place in Los Angeles this week, and we're already seeing some big stories emerging.
Sony have announced details of their new PS3 which will launch pre Christmas. Its going to be priced at a chunky €600 (over £400 - but Merrill Lynch estimate it will cost them €900 to build in the early days (sub req)) and will include a 60GB hard disc, a DVD player (using the new Sony Blu Ray format naturally) a wireless controller and will give access to an online community that Sony liken to My Space.
When we developed the first European PlayStation site around 9 years ago we found that community was a key driver in games even then - everyone wants to post high scores, get cheats and share stories. So we can expect this aspect to be very succesful - as long as they take care to get it right.
The PS3 will also be High Definition enabled - with HD versions of top games such as Gran Turismo on sale soon after launch. Sony are obviously hoping that the high spec will be enough for them to repair the damage to their market share by being so late into a market XBox now dominate.
Cutting-edge design has become more important than cutting-edge technology and site the iPod as proof
Being the Apple of the games industry is an attractive notion - but its a big risk. Especially when gaming is so pervasive anyway. But as we posted last week the health of this sector is a big opportunity for advertisers
The new Xbox 360 is out - but probably not available. As well as hyping the launch with a midnight shop opening - and the consequent queues that maximise media coverage - the supply is limited creating a shortage pre Christmas - Amazon is quoting a delivery time of 2 - 4 months. This drives loads more media coverage, and some good profiteering with the premium 360 selling on eBay for £550! But is it marketing hype or just supply problems - maximising Christmas sales is key to the success of the 360.
Microsoft are forecasting 10 million sales, but the general view is that the PlayStation 3 - due next year - will be the really big seller. The need to get to market before the PS3 may be one justification for short supply - maybe they just can't make them fast enough?
One part of the marketing that we won't see is this banned ad - showing that cut through creative can make a great impact. No-one is going to fast forward through this, although you can see why the lawyers said no. But the fact its available at all suggests this could be a viral approach - as we have said before; if your ad is good enough you probably don't need to buy a lot of media for it.