Shooting first: what it means for Sony to go first into next-gen

What does it mean for Sony to announce its next console before Microsoft? What does that bode for the PS4 and the next Xbox?

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Sony is expected to announce its next PlayStation console at its February 20th press event. Every day until then, Shacknews will look at PlayStation's history, and analyze what that could mean for the company's future.
As many Star Wars fans know, shooting first is quite a big deal. Many believe that by releasing Xbox 360 a year before its competitors, Microsoft was able to thrust the brand from third place to second place, only behind Nintendo's massively successful Wii. PlayStation 2 also launched a year before the Gamecube and Xbox--outselling both of these consoles combined. One generation prior, PS1's year-long advantage had it outselling the late-coming N64 by more than a 3-to-1 margin. Given those numbers, it's no surprise that companies want to make sure they are not left behind in the console race. These transitions give every manufacturer a huge opportunity, as previous success does not guarantee future returns. The top execs at Sony are all very aware of this reality: it only took one console--PS3--for Sony's plummet from first place to last place. It only took one console--Wii--for Nintendo to nearly quadruple its footprint. For the past few months, both Microsoft and Sony have been playing "next-gen chicken," with executives from both companies putting on their best poker face. Sony has been keen on suggesting Microsoft would lead next-gen development. "Why go first, when your competitors can look at your specifications and come up with something better?," Sony CEO Kaz Hirai recently told The Times. SCEA CEO Jack Tretton also echoed a similar sentiment, suggesting Sony wasn't in the race to get their machine out first. "We've never been first, we've never been cheapest, it's about being best," he told GameTrailers (via CVG). "And I think if you can build a better machine and it's going to come out a little bit later, that's better than rushing something to market that's going to run out of gas for the long-term." So, why the apparent change of heart? Why is Sony rushing to announce its console before Microsoft? It could be a sign of confidence. If rumors are to be believed, it appears that the upcoming systems from Microsoft and Sony will be largely similar, with both consoles using pretty much the same CPU and GPU combination. From a specs perspective, it seems that the only real difference between the two systems will be the amount of RAM both consoles can use--and early reports suggest the new PlayStation will actually "power past the new Xbox." In fact, Digital Foundry recently concluded, looking at what it assumes to be final spec of both consoles, that "Orbis looks like the tighter, more powerful, more games-focused design." By revealing a more powerful console first, Sony will certainly make a splash--something that could potentially lessen the impact of Microsoft's eventual unveiling. Sony could be doubling down its focus on the hardcore gamer with the next PlayStation console, a market that is being increasingly marginalized by "casual" friendly mobile and social games. Couple a more capable hardware solution with Sony's staple of first-party developers and a free-to-access PlayStation Network, Sony could position themselves as the more impressive alternative to Microsoft's next console, which will undoubtedly increase its focus on multimedia functionality. Of course, Sony could be rushing its PS4 announce simply because it has no other choice. The Japanese hardware giant has been financially troubled for some time, with eight consecutive quarters of losses. Take a look at Sony's stock, which has been hammered over the years. Sony needs investors--and not just gamers--to get excited for their company again. After the most significant drop in four years, the company clearly wants to deflect bad news with a big, bombastic press event.

Sony's stock has plummeted over the past five years

At this point, it seems likely that not only will Sony announce its next console before Microsoft, but will release their new hardware first as well. It seems analysts were right, with RW Baird's Colin Sebastian saying in 2011: "between Sony and Microsoft, we expect Sony to be first to market perhaps as early as 2013." But, going first isn't necessarily the best move. Let's not forget that Sega launched the Dreamcast a year before PS2--and exited the console market two years later.
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From The Chatty
  • reply
    February 11, 2013 11:15 AM

    Andrew Yoon posted a new article, Shooting first: what it means for Sony to go first into next-gen.

    What does it mean for Sony to announce its next console before Microsoft? What does that bode for the PS4 and the next Xbox?

    • reply
      February 11, 2013 11:26 AM

      it will fail like the 360.

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        February 11, 2013 11:38 AM

        Its going to be a success everywhere except Japan. Oh and Madagascar.

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        February 11, 2013 12:04 PM

        When did the 360 fail?

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          February 11, 2013 12:19 PM

          When it offered you a ring of love!

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      February 11, 2013 11:47 AM

      i miss the dreamcast.

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      February 11, 2013 12:01 PM

      Didn't those mofo's just say a few weeks ago they were going to wait and see what everyone else does?

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      February 11, 2013 12:14 PM

      regardless of who goes first, if they take out used games, I'm done with consoles. DONE

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        February 11, 2013 12:26 PM

        To be fair its not like there is a used pc game market

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          February 11, 2013 12:27 PM

          Yeah and I suspect that stuff like Steam Sales can be done mostly because there is no resale value for the games. Maybe we'll see similar things on consoles if they lock down used game sales.

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            February 11, 2013 12:45 PM

            I really doubt the publishers will go along with that. I think they'd need a huuuuge backlash before they'd consider enabling steam like sales on consoles.

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          February 11, 2013 10:21 PM

          The difference is, PC games drop price / value FAST - console games launch more expensive and hold value. If they region lock and re-sell lock us, the pieces of shit better drop prices accordingly.

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            February 11, 2013 10:26 PM

            to be fair, this might also end up happening with console games, but I'd guess only so if there's low sales for the hardware and/or software

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        February 11, 2013 10:47 PM

        Will you bet me money you won't buy a Sony or MS console?

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      February 11, 2013 12:27 PM

      Shoot first? I thought this was an article about the LAPD.

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      February 11, 2013 12:35 PM

      Serious question. Since weve seen how similar the hardware between these 2 devices are. (Ps4 and xbox720). How much collusion is there? Has the competition officially stagnated this generation? Sony and microsoft are of course trying to expand their marketshare, but the risk involved in trying to push the envelope not going to be worth the reward?

      Im simewhat scares these consoles will be duds. Not in terms of popularity, but in terms of advancing the genre farther. Any reading on what these things theoretically push? Any indication towards advanced controls beyond "controller" or kinect-type stuff? Maybe add keyboard mouse controls for fps?

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        February 11, 2013 12:42 PM

        The similarity and parity of the two consoles should benefit the generation. Complex new architectures and new methods of control input don't help advance gaming and if anything stagnates it. That's because developers have the throw more resources into building new or and updating engines, then having specialized teams for each platform which costs money. Then you have the new control inputs which usually result in shitty content built around the controller.

        Hopefully with X86 based machines that are very similar, these companies can focus on game content instead which is where real improvement will come from.

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        February 11, 2013 12:51 PM

        I'm more concerned that their similarity could come back to haunt the two giants. Gabe Newell is convinced that Apple is going to redo Apple TV and it will push these two consoles out of the living room.

        I think MS and Sony are concerned about Apple's entrance as well. Sony's addressing it by going early. MS has been addressing it by adding multimedia functionality and the Kinect feature suite. It'll be interesting to see if either of them can survive. Hopefully they can do enough to keep Apple from taking control of all aspects of media.

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          February 11, 2013 1:23 PM

          How would apple tv replace a console

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            February 11, 2013 1:57 PM

            The theory is that ATV will become more than just a movie/music device, and have some ability to play games. Presumably with an ipad as a controller, but who knows.

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              February 11, 2013 2:23 PM

              That would be fine for casual games, but that sounds worse than the WiiU controller for anything else.

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                February 11, 2013 2:55 PM

                The WiiU Gamepad is pretty damn awesome, I feel like having to go into a separate screen for inventory management in games is a hindrance after playing ZombiU.

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                  February 11, 2013 9:31 PM

                  And yet I still have no motivation to buy a WiiU, go figure.

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                    February 12, 2013 6:01 AM

                    It's a gamepad and a tv dinner stand.... why wouldn't you want one?

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              February 11, 2013 2:27 PM

              what's taking so long to get this strategy off the ground? The AppleTV has been a slow moving project for years now, what's the wait?

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                February 11, 2013 2:31 PM

                Presumably they want to do more than just make a devices that is AppleTV + app store. What the other stuff is is unknown but speculation is voice recognition with Siri type stuff, Kinect type stuff, etc.

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                  February 11, 2013 2:44 PM

                  but Siri came out like 2 years ago now right? There was/is a huge opening for an iOS device plus app store for your TV and that space is just filling up more and more while Apple continues to pretend AppleTV is a hobby. The lack of voice/gesture recognition is hardly a ship stopper (obviously, since AppleTV exists). The real problem is its not a big money maker at $99 with no contracts attached.

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                    February 11, 2013 2:51 PM

                    It's definitely going to be a trick for them to offer what is sort of a "next-gen" AppleTV that costs more than $99. Still, it'd be stupid for them to skip out on creating this device when there's so much potential.

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        February 11, 2013 1:17 PM

        We haven't really seen anything yet.

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        February 11, 2013 1:30 PM

        AMD won out like gangbusters this gen, I'm sure that had something to do wtih it.

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          February 11, 2013 4:39 PM

          Let's just hope they survive till the next generation.

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        February 11, 2013 1:48 PM

        Seems like they took the simple way out on these hardware designs. On the plus side that suggests at least that these consoles will be easy to develop for / standardized. On the downside, it's hard to call their consoles that groundbreaking when it's literally going to be a current low/mid range PC in a living room form factor.

        Plus the PC side of things has absolutely exploded. Will there be humble bundle on consoles? hell no. steam sales? hell no. kickstarter? of course not. There might be moves to imitate or adopt but it's hard to deny the PC audience is seeing a support right now that's long been missing, and so the excitement does go that way to some degree.

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          February 11, 2013 2:49 PM

          True, i just feel like things have stagnated. My perpetual cynicism seems to have arupted last 3 or 4 years. I dont see videos or screenshots that blow me away like i used to.

          I want to look forward to killer games, features and non-gimmicky innovation. Its out there, just hard to fins. Lets hope these next couple years we see some cool stuff :)

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          February 11, 2013 3:03 PM

          In the past, with mid-range PC hardware I would still expect the consoles to look better than PC's for a year or two simply because they don't have the OS overhead. Both of these consoles will now have their own light OSes in the XMB and Dashboard, so I'm not sure that this generation will be similar.

          The most important PC thing that I think Sony/MS have to support is F2P. If they don't, and continue with their archaic, difficult to maintain, and expensive content production systems, I think that the PC makes them irrelevant within a few years. You can buy a good, mid-range PC in a nice living room form factor for $500, and they're going to have to compete against that with Valve's muscle behind it.

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            February 11, 2013 4:42 PM

            I'm pretty sure the current console generation all have proper operating systems already. It sounds like you're implying that they don't.

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            February 11, 2013 6:05 PM

            but consoles have non trivial multi purpose OSes already, and on 360 there's at least one F2P game today (Happy Wars)

    • Ziz legacy 10 years
      reply
      February 11, 2013 1:20 PM

      I've only owned a PS, though when I hear about some of the games, like No Ni Kuni. I feel like i'm missing out.

      • Ziz legacy 10 years
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        February 11, 2013 1:31 PM

        Oh and Demon's Souls

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        February 11, 2013 2:57 PM

        wait...what?

        • Ziz legacy 10 years
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          February 11, 2013 4:45 PM

          I own other consoles, but of Sony just had the first Playstation.

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      February 11, 2013 4:06 PM

      Microsoft from third to second? Not quite. Xbox outsold the GameCube:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_video_game_consoles_(sixth_generation)#Worldwide_sales_standings

      Just a little nitpick.

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        February 11, 2013 4:22 PM

        Actually, Wikipedia tells me the PS3 has now outpaced the 360 in worldwide sales, so arguably MS is last now, though a clear second in the USA.

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          February 11, 2013 4:28 PM

          Where are you seeing that? I am seeing the 360 ahead of total worldwide sales http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_video_game_consoles_%28seventh_generation%29#Sales_standings

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            February 11, 2013 4:36 PM

            You're right, my mistake. I got the numbers flipped somehow.

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              February 11, 2013 4:39 PM

              It's because the lists for all the other generations are in order of sales from most to least, but for some reason they have the PS3 listed above the 360 in that one.

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            February 11, 2013 5:45 PM

            The ps3 numbers are a whole quarter behind the other two

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            February 11, 2013 10:24 PM

            Wow the 360's only real stranglehold is the US, it makes so much sense regarding some of the posts on this site.

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              February 11, 2013 10:26 PM

              "only", yup, only the little ol' US, where we like maple syrup with our bacon

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                February 11, 2013 10:36 PM

                Yes, 'only' - if you look at the linked article, every other region the PS3 is winning.

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                  February 11, 2013 10:41 PM

                  Still, the 360 sales in the US alone nearly match that of the PS3 in everywhere but the US combined.

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                  February 11, 2013 10:42 PM

                  and they're still behind worldwide...i know you desperately want to write off the US but as a market, there's 4.2 million PS3s, WIIs AND 360s in aus. and 80 million in the US.

                  your market doesn't matter. europe, japan, US. and in those three, while the PS3 is ahead in two, it's behind overall, so US obviously matters the most.

                  i have a PS3. i just don't think it's some noble thing.

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                    February 11, 2013 10:45 PM

                    I am most surprised by the Canada PS3 vs 360 numbers compared to the US. I figured it would be close to the same ratio but it's the opposite.

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                      February 11, 2013 10:47 PM

                      Although now I see the last count for 360 in Canada was 2008 for some reason, a decent gap compared to the 2010 PS3 totals.

                    • ArB legacy 10 years
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                      February 12, 2013 1:09 AM

                      There aren't as many bros in Canada, eh.

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                    February 11, 2013 11:02 PM

                    How do I /desperately/ want to write off the US market? Oh shacknews (or should I say EvilDolemite to be honest)

                    The US Market represents only 1/3 of all the Xbox sales, regardless of the big win in the USA, the fact is Sony is doing quite well internationally and we're missing the big Christmas sale data for the PS3 to boot AND the 360 was far more notorious for breaking down, I'd be quite comfortable believing at least 2 or 3 million of the 360 sales were to replace old ones.

                    I'd say, all in all - Sony has done a bang up job of catching up from far behind.

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                      February 11, 2013 11:11 PM

                      Sales for last Q came out a week or so ago. Check Neogaf mayhaps.

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                        February 11, 2013 11:54 PM

                        The 360's sales advantage is down to about 1 million units worldwide. Based on the way sales have trended I expect Sony will announce that the PS3 is the best selling HD console in the world at E3 this year.

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                          February 12, 2013 12:00 AM

                          Factor in the % of dead 360's - I'd say Sony is winning.

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                      February 11, 2013 11:31 PM

                      True, never would've thought that Sony could pull that off.

                      They needed a reality check after their smug phase at the end of the ps2 era though.

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                        February 11, 2013 11:59 PM

                        Oh yeah that smug shit was off the dial, man did they fuck up hard for the PS3 announcement / launch

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                          February 12, 2013 12:51 AM

                          Yup and they got spanked for it, but they've been pretty humble recently.

                          Obviously i'm predicting wildly here, but I think its interesting, I can't help but feel MS is going to fumble the traditional gaming market by focusing on Kinect and other non-traditional gaming features next time round. If so it will be interesting how nearly every new company to the industry goes through a period of over confidence that costs them the market.

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                            February 12, 2013 1:04 AM

                            If Microsoft actually do have a 'micro projector' which projects half the game around my entire living room (and it has an incredibly short throw for my small apartment somehow) I'm at least quite interested.

                            Also I don't think they will actually fuck up the hardcore market.

                            Ultimately though, one thing people said years ago which I didn't get when I was new to consoles and too focused on specs and technology and gadgets, it's all about the games
                            Games games games games - Chad Warden was on the money - the 360 has almost nothing of interest to me, which is pretty fucking sad considering how popular it is. Whereas the PS3 has just such great unique games. I expect I'll likely be getting a PS4 and again, skipping the MS console.

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                              February 12, 2013 5:38 AM

                              I can only see Forza and coop Halo keeping me interested in the next Xbox.

                              Not many PlayStation exclusives that excite me either though, mostly single player games I'd play for a weekend or two.

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                      February 11, 2013 11:37 PM

                      Catching up or not, sales wise the PS3 still has to be viewed as an abject failure from Sony's previously overwhelmingly dominant spot on top of the previous 2 generations. There's a lot of good stuff on the PS3 that is more than worth the price of admission now and the increase in market share shows that.

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                        February 12, 2013 12:54 AM

                        Well during the ps2 era there really wasn't a proper competitor. Dreamcast was already on its knees. The gamecube had almost zero 3rd party support. And the xbox wasn't really taken seriously at first by anyone apart from a small section of American gamers. The ps2 just stomped through and picked up the pieces.

                        Lets not forget this seems to happen a lot in this industry. Massive dominance in one generation rarely translates to guarantees for the next round.

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                      February 12, 2013 12:48 AM

                      Its funny to see how defensive all the Americans got because you used the word "only" in the same sentence as America.

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                        February 12, 2013 12:50 AM

                        Do you reckon that's what it was? I wondered why the reaction, you're probably right TBH!

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                          February 12, 2013 12:56 AM

                          Seemed like that to me, but of course i fully expect to be shack piled for even suggesting such a thing.

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                      February 12, 2013 5:01 AM

                      If China lifts the console ban, the next generation should have a giant increase in market potential.
                      And that could be an advantage do PS4 but an opportunity for Microsoft to capture a whole new market.

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                  February 11, 2013 11:59 PM

                  You need a deeper, better definition of winning than hardware sales.

                  If for example 360 made more profit per piece of hardware, generated more revenue from games sales, and generated more revenue from digital sales (xbla vs psn, live gold vs psn plus) and sold only a few less pieces of hardware then it would be silly to say that PS3 is winning.

                  I don't know the answer to any of those questions. None of us do. I'd take a pretty decent educated guess that all of them are in 360's favor though.



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        February 11, 2013 4:23 PM

        I don't think they ever profited on hardware though. GCN was profitable always.

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          February 11, 2013 4:26 PM

          Ah, I see. I was just looking at units sold, but arguably the more meaningful statistic would be profit/loss.

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      February 11, 2013 5:37 PM

      Nintendo may have cashed in on their hardware with the Wii but it ended up being the least-used system once it was all said and done. Now they're back in last place, from what I can see, in terms of gamer excitement, buzz, and system capabilities for the long-run.

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