Video Game Heaven -- But Which is Best?

Depending on how you look at it, video games are either the ultimate home entertainment, or a disease.   Regardless -  if it's on your Christmas list you've got better choices than ever before.   No question about it, when Microsoft came out with the X-Box last week, it upped the ante in an already comptetive video-game industry.

Timed just perfectly for Christmas shoppers, first Microsoft, then Nintendo trotted out their newest game technology last week.  Nintendo's been around from the start.  The Japanese company has a proven track record, and now a new offering:  the GameCube.  It came out just this last weekend, only a few days afteMicrosoft's X-Box debut.   But remember, these are just glorified, specialized computers -- the hardware.   The software is the game titles you buy to play on them.

Microsoft takes a huge financial gamble as a newcomer in this arena...but the
X-Box has some impressive features and the backing of one of the biggest and most persuasive names in the business.

To round out the top three, there's Sony's PlayStation-2.   With the biggest share of the market, and 10-million users...they're the one to beat.  Sony has the most game titles, and some of the most popular.   The PlayStation-2 also plays DVD movies, and there are plenty of them on the store shelves.  Finally, the PS-2 arguably has the best accessories on the market.

Video game sales in the U-S top 5-billion, and so far, Nintendo's captured about a third of that market.   The "Cube" is the most portable of the three, and many players say it has the best hand-held controller.   It costs $200, a hundred dollars less than X-Box or PS-2, but it has the weakest audio quality.

Whether you're a computer gamer or not, if you're a computer user, you have to appreciate what the gamers have done for the computer industry.   With their expectations, they've pushed the envelope, demanding better graphics, and faster speeds.

Microsoft did years of research before jumping into the fray with Nintendo and Sony.   They think they can steal customers by offering the fastest computer, one that plays DVD's, provides surround-sound, and interactive play online.

But X-Box has the fewest game titles.   All three have excellent quality graphics that only the very discriminating gamer could tell apart.

Sega owns about 10% of the market, but don't have any new toys to offer this season.   When it comes right down to it, though, the game you buy will be the game you can find on the store-shelves, and right now X-Box is sold out, and the GameCube is also hard to find.