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Thursday, 23 May, 2002, 12:28 GMT 13:28 UK
Console wars 'benefit consumers'
E3
E3 is a major drawn for the industry

Visitors to the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles say the current price war being waged by the major gaming companies is benefiting the industry.

E3 is the world's largest trade event dedicated exclusively to showcasing interactive entertainment.

Game fans
Fans can try out games early
About 400 exhibiting companies representing 70 countries are showing off their products at the LA Convention Centre. About three-quarters of the products debuting at the event will be on store shelves in time for Christmas.

The expo also serves as a global stage for the major players in the industry, like Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft, to battle it out in what is been dubbed the war of the consoles.

"It's definitely a great thing for the consumer," said Ron Crisostomo from the video game and software retailer, GameStop.

"It's just a phenomenal opportunity for the consumer to pick up on these games systems."

Last week, Microsoft cut the price of the Xbox in the US to $199 from $299.

Earlier, Sony made a similar reduction to its Playstation 2, while Nintendo has cut the price of its GameCube by $50 to $149.

"They're no longer for the high-end people, they're more mainstream now," said Mr Crisostomo.

Bill Gates launching the Xbox
About 3.5 million Xboxes have been sold so far
Both Microsoft and Sony say their consoles are selling faster as a result of the price cuts.

Bryan Glasow, a Blockbuster store manager, said: "People are very conscious of something like price. I believe that the people who were waiting are now purchasing them.

"Now they're more willing to shell out the cash. It's a good thing."

Marco Munguia, who is visiting E3 as a representative of Target, one of America's biggest cut-price high street stores, added: "It's been really important as far as the price war is concerned - to the companies it really is a big deal."

E3 is now in its eighth year. It is owned by the Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA) which represents US companies publishing interactive games for video game consoles, handheld devises, personal computers and the internet.

To mark the start of the expo, the association released the results its annual consumer survey of gaming trends.

The data suggests that six out of 10 of today's computer and video game players expect to still be playing games 10 years from now.

E3 logo
E3 brings together a fiercely competitive sector
"There's no doubt that video games are deeply imbedded in our society," said Doug Lowenstein, president of the IDSA.

He added that for Americans between the ages of six and 35, interactive entertainment was "as natural and basic as watching TV or listening to the radio were for previous generations".

The atmosphere inside the main exhibition hall is breathtaking. A huge electronic roar greets visitors as crowds of people huddle round giant banks of gaming machines.

"It's awesome," said one excited onlooker.

"It's the coolest thing I've ever seen. All the games, the people, free stuff - I've got a bag of goodies," boasted another.

The logos of the main gaming companies tower over the expo while many people wait in long queues to hear keynote speakers.

"It's just been an incredible time," said Mr Munguia.

"Since it is just trade people and gamers everyone can relate and just have a sixth sense of what to play."

Jon Simpson, a technician from Sundance Computers, a small-time computer store in northern California, said he was impressed by the vast array of fresh products on display.

He was also aware that with more sophisticated software came greater demands on the technology.

"You're going to need a lot of high-end hardware to run the newer games," he said.

"That's one of the most important things that I've seen. The games are just getting more and more intense - Doom 3 is just incredible - it's going to be very intense for the computer hardware to run it."


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 VOTE RESULTS
Which machine will triumph in the console wars?

GameCube
 17.50% 

PlayStation 2
 60.00% 

Xbox
 22.50% 

200 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

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