The games media is on fire with a new rumor: that during this year’s E3, one of gaming’s major players will bow out of the future hardware race. If true, it’ll be the biggest shake up in the games industry since Sega famously called uncle in 2001, after the market failure of its Dreamcast console.
But the big question left unanswered is: who will it be?
Right off the top we can rule out Nintendo, for reasons both obvious and not-so-obvious. At the top of the obvious pile is a little white box called “Wii U,” slated to launch later this year. With their move, Nintendo will officially set the wheels of “next generation” in motion, delivering a system that is both more powerful than anything currently on the market and yet backward compatible with existing titles. Less obvious are other facts: with the exception of very recent financials, Nintendo has always turned a comfortable profit on their games hardware. Wii, DS, 3DS–all were profitable from the word “go,” and it’s unlikely that model will change any time soon. Sure, they’ve recently had some troubles that ultimately come back to an unfavorable exchange rate on the Japanese Yen versus other currencies that have fallen in the world’s recession, but those issues will ultimately work out when the economy stabilizes again (and history suggests that it eventually will, even if we don’t know how long it might take).
So that leaves us with Sony and Microsoft. Who’s more likely, and why?