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Next-gen bigwigs trade blows

Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo openly criticise one another.

Some of Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo's highest-ranking executives have spoken out in the pages of a Japanese newspaper just after the Electronic Entertainment Expo, addressing one another's next-generation ambitions in rather scornful terms.

Sony's Ken Kutaragi, who presented PlayStation 3 to the world press in Los Angeles earlier this month, used the piece published by Asahi Shinbun and partially translated by US website GameSpot to belittle Microsoft, claiming that the company was not a threat, and suggesting that their next next-generation machine might be the one to watch - implying that Xbox 360 will fail to make a mark on PlayStation 3.

With regard to sales of Xbox, which briefly eclipsed those of PlayStation 2 in the USA recently, Kutaragi appeared to mock what many perceive to be his company's chief adversary. "Beating us for a short moment is like accidentally winning a point from a Shihan [Karate master], and Microsoft is still not a black belt," he said.

However, Microsoft's Chief Xbox Officer Robbie Bach said Sony and Nintendo's presentations "weren't surprising", claiming that the PlayStation 3's capabilities were equivalent to Xbox 360's and declaring: "We will become the market leader with our next-generation console."

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, meanwhile, cast doubt on the efforts of both Sony and Microsoft, complaining that the concentration on CPU power and high definition visuals would "bloat up development costs".

Once again, Iwata's message was that Nintendo wants to attract non-gamers to the medium by creating games that differ from the current crop, citing Nintendogs as an example of how it's already started to do this. "We're not about selling new kinds of TVs or taking control of the living room," he added on the subject of technology.

Kutaragi and Bach also traded blows on the specifics of their machines, with Bach claiming that PS3's support for seven players on one console, and double HDTV output, was a step too far, and that using Blu-Ray disc media was a big risk.

Kutaragi, meanwhile, said that using Blu-Ray was an attempt to spur on sales of Blu-Ray compatible devices in much the same way he feels that PS2 helped boost the consumer DVD market since 2000.

Microsoft's Xbox 360 console is due to launch worldwide later this year at around $300, while Sony's PlayStation 3 is due next spring and Nintendo is expected to release Revolution at a lower price in mid 2006, with a European release perhaps following later in the year or early in 2007.