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Video games: A serious business in India
Aabhas Sharma
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April 01, 2006

PS rules. Xbox rocks. Just a few superlatives that show the huge divide that has come to pass, at least as far as gaming freaks are concerned. Sony's Playstation (PS) and Microsoft's Xbox have been battling it out hard to become the gamer's first choice console for quite some time now.

For people who still don't know what terms like PS and the Xbox (as they are popularly known) mean, here's a little backgrounder. Playstation was actually launched in the late 90s by Sony and found its way to the Indian market in early 2002.

Playstation for quite sometime enjoyed unrivalled popularity worldwide. But with the entry of Microsoft's Xbox at the turn of the century, people suddenly found that they had an alternative.

Xbox is pretty similar to Playstation and offers more or less the same technical specifications. Though officially not available in India, it has still created quite a stir among gamers in the country.

Milestone Interactive, a Mumbai-based company, has been distributing the console in Indian markets. PS is a basic gaming console where all you have to do is insert a game CD or DVD before you can get down to some serious addictive gaming.

While PS 2 comes in two variants, the black and the silver, costing Rs 12,990 and Rs 13,490 respectively, the Xbox 360 needs to be officially ordered and is shipped across in a week's time and costs around Rs 13,500.

Narayan Prabhu, sales manager, Milestone Interactive, feels that the PS as a product reaches out to everyone. "The games are meant for kids aged between 3-18 and above," he says. So it covers the entire gamut of people who are interested in gaming consoles.

Says Mohit Anand, county manager, Microsoft India's entertainment and devices division, "Xbox has become a favourite of gamers all across the globe and has found a lot of takers in India as well."

He says that if this is the case before the product is officially available, it will gain even more popularity once shoppers can pick it up locally.

PS 2 has sold about 10,000 units in the country so far and is expecting to see an upward swing when PS 3 is officially launched. PS 3 is said to be one of the most awaited gizmos and should be launched in November 2006.

The other aspect of the whole gaming console business is the CDs or DVDs which one has to buy. The original CDs are pretty highly priced, and most users go for pirated ones that are easily available. However, Prabhu says that the CDs sound expensive only when a new game is launched.

"Once the game is about six months old, prices come down automatically." A new game CD is priced at around Rs 3,000 while the old ones cost you anywhere around Rs 499-699.

While Anand feels that the Xbox CDs, when available, will be priced keeping in mind the purchasing power of the customer. The original CDs, though, cost around Rs 1,500.

Citing the example of Microsoft's PC games, he explains, "Our PC games are priced at between Rs 300-1,200, so we keep the target audience happy."

Apart from Xbox and PS, there is another alternative, which is available in the Indian markets, Nintendo's Game Cube and its next generation model, the Revolution.

The fact that PS 2 can play both DVDs and PS 1 games gives it the edge over Xbox, despite the fact that it has inferior graphics and sound compared to the Xbox. The Xbox offers better graphics and surround sound as well.

The Xbox supports four players while the PS 2 supports only two. The PS 3 will support upto seven players excluding the online players, and will have better graphics as well as sound.

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