The New Yorker On Placing Third

I enjoyed this when I read it earlier this week: In Praise of Third Place

Sony and Microsoft are desperate to be the biggest players in a market that, in their vision, will encompass not just video games but “interactive entertainment” generally. That’s why the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360 are all-in-one machines, which allow users not just to play video games but also to do things like watch high-definition DVDs and stream digital music. Sony and Microsoft’s quest to “control the living room” has locked them in a classic arms race; they have invested billions of dollars in an attempt to surpass each other technologically, building ever-bigger, ever-better, and ever-more-expensive machines.

Nintendo has dropped out of this race. The Wii has few bells and whistles and much less processing power than its “competitors,” and it features less impressive graphics. It’s really well suited for just one thing: playing games. But this turns out to be an asset. The Wii’s simplicity means that Nintendo can make money selling consoles, while Sony is reportedly losing more than two hundred and forty dollars on each PlayStation 3 it sells—even though they are selling for almost six hundred dollars. Similarly, because Nintendo is not trying to rule the entire industry, it’s been able to focus on its core competence, which is making entertaining, innovative games.

And I was pleased to see that it was made a part of this assessment of this week’s video game news: Sony, Nintendo, etc.