Graphic by Carina Hayes

By Bill Weedmark

Enormous popularity and hype about Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Nintendo’s Wii have made the two videogame systems hot items for this year’s holiday wish-lists.

But with the high demand and low number of units shipping out, getting your hands on either one by year’s end might end up costing a few thousand dollars.

Sony will release two versions of the PS3 on Nov. 17, a high-end model with a 60-GB hard drive priced at $599, and a model with a 20-GB hard drive and less features for $499. Nintendo’s Wii launches on Nov. 19, at $250.

According to Sony, less than 400,000 PS3s will be released in North America for the system launch, while Nintendo intends to sell at least 4 million Wiis worldwide by the end of this year, with most going to North America.
So how is anyone going to find one of these systems?

Freshman Michael Marino shelled out a $100 deposit to make sure he would get a PS3 on launch day.

“I did a pre-order very early on, directly through Sony,” he said. “So a PS3, upon release, is being shipped to my house and will arrive at the same time it arrives in the stores.”

Senior Sparkle Phillips is also interested in the PS3, but won’t be getting one until prices drop.

“The market-value when games come out is so high to begin with that it’s usually better to wait at least a year when the hype surrounding it dies down,” she said.

For those who didn’t pre-order either system months in advance though, there may be few options for purchasing one.

Gamestop, the parent company of EBGames stores like the one here in St. Augustine on State Road 312, opened up PS3 pre-orders on Oct. 9 and Wii pre-orders on Oct. 13.

Pre-orders for both systems sold out nationally within minutes, according to Gamespot. Online pre-orders for both systems will be available, but Gamespot has not yet set a date or released information. Representatives for both Wal-Mart and Target were unavailable to discuss their own pre-order policies.

Enterprising gamers initially listed their own pre-ordered systems on eBay, most receiving bids around $2,000. Those listings were all pulled for violations of eBay policy, so gamers may have to wait until the systems are released before they start searching eBay.

Even then, buyers can expect similar prices for the two systems until more units are released. But for that much money, is a new system even worth it to a college student?

According to Marino, the $600 for the PS3 is worth it and the money isn’t an issue as the system is something he worked hard to save up for.

“You’re paying for superior technology and in my mind … it’s a better game set,” he said.

But for junior Nick Hassinger, the price of the two consoles is the main reason he won’t make a purchase until prices come down.

“For me, it’s a really big issue because in college, and being a graphic design major, I hardly have any money,” he said. “So if it comes down to it, if I absolutely need a system, I’ll just go for the cheaper of the two, which it will be the Wii.”

For those who might still be undecided on which system to get, it is important to understand the differences in each system and what each will offer.

The Wii won’t focus on improved graphics or DVD playback, but instead features a new motion sensing controller, called the Wiimote. Players control the games with a combination of buttons on the device and their hand motions.

The PS3 is in more direct competition with Microsoft’s Xbox 360, which was released last year, and will focus on greatly-improved graphics. Sony has a motion-sensing controller of their own, the Sixaxis, but the PS3 won’t rely on that ability as much as the Wii. The PS3 will also play PlayStation and PlayStation 2 games in addition to new games.

Cost aside, the biggest deciding factor when purchasing a new system for some gamers is the library of games available.

“I myself like having a wide variety in games,” Hassinger said. “I would rather have more types and genres of games at my disposal.”

“The library should be a factor for anybody’s decision on buying a system,” Marino said. “If you buy a system with a set of games that’s aimed at a different demographic … then buying the system is pointless.”

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