Phil Harrison backs Wii

Returns fire at Microsoft.

Sony's Phil Harrison has recommended the purchase of Nintendo Wii as a second console, firing back at recent comments from Microsoft over the pricing structure of the PlayStation 3.

In an interview with US website Gamepro.com, Harrison stated that he believes, "Nintendo [Wii] will be the second system consumers purchase after PlayStation 3," praising the company's innovation but stressing that Wii is in a different market to the PS3 and effectively describing the next-gen console war as a direct fight between Sony and Microsoft.

The launch strategy for the PS3 was announced last week in Los Angeles during the pre-E3 Sony press conference. Executives from the Japanese giant are fighting a battle from the outset in their efforts to justify the hefty EURO 500-600 price tag for the new console, which supports the costly Blu-Ray disc format as opposed to Microsoft's HD DVD compatible Xbox 360.

Microsoft was quick to lay scorn on the announcement, with Peter Moore telling gamesindustry.biz: "I'm trying to rationalise USD 500 and USD 600. I'm trying to rationalise whether Blu-Ray, a format that hasn't hit the market yet, can justify that pricing," and suggesting that consumers could buy an Xbox 360 and Wii for less than the cost of a PS3.

"I know what Peter was getting at with his price point issue but he's not comparing apples to oranges," Harrison commented. "It's clearly a case that PlayStation 3's price is justified by PlayStation 3's value. That's what consumers base their purchasing decisions on - value."

"What we have in addition to a great game system is a Blu-Ray player, a network platform, a new controller, and HDD in every system combined in an unbelievably compelling package. And frankly I'm amazed that we can do it so cheaply," Harrison added.

Sony has been accused of offering little real innovation in its next-gen machine, with a network community service remarkably akin to Microsoft's existing Xbox Live service (for which the Redmond giant has announced massive expansion plans), a motion-sensing controller that appears to borrow ideas from Nintendo's Wii controller, and an expensive optical media format that, at present, remains untested and could have pushed the price of the PS3 beyond the reach of a substantial segment of the interactive entertainment audience.

Additionally, Microsoft will have had a year's head start on Sony, with the company aiming to have an installed base of 10 million Xbox 360 customers by the time the PS3 launches. Exactly how the console war is going to turn out is open to bets at the moment, but Sony will certainly have to work hard to re-establish its dominance of the console market with the next-generation of machines - while Sony and Microsoft fight for customers, Nintendo could easily swoop in with a significant global audience for it's latest 'disruptive technology' platform.

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