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New games consoles work to leave mark at Gamescom

The new generation of gaming consoles were out in force at this year’s just-ended Gamescom convention in Germany, where makers had their eye on the lucrative upcoming holiday shopping season.

Gaming consoles have been declared dead before as players move to online streaming games that work on PCs. The lower end of the market has been getting addicted to casual games on smartphones and tablets.

But Sony’s Playstation 4 and Microsoft’s XBox One hope to prove the naysayers wrong. Nintendo also had its hat in the ring, with the update of its Wii. All come with new functions, expanded online options and performance upgrades.

Neither the Playstation 4 from Sony nor Microsoft’s XBox One were completely new at Gamescom. They had already been presented at the E3 convention in Los Angeles earlier this year. But sales starts are now approaching.

The Playstation 4 will go on sale in mid-November in the United States and November 29 in Europe, while the new XBox is to be ”in November” without an exact day specified.

Speculation went into overdrive at the recent announcement that one of the XBox’s most popular games – Call of Duty – is to be released November 5. It hardly seems likely, analysts note, that the game would hit markets before the console.

Some customers might not even notice such a glitch. Microsoft has already said the initial availability date does not apply for every country.

It’s not the first time Microsoft’s plans have raised questions.

Microsoft’s presentation in Los Angeles, which was to show how it could become a central multimedia station for family entertainment did not sit well with hardcore gamers.

Other forward-looking steps also grated with potential customers.

A requirement to be online at all times while using the system has been rescinded, even if it would have allowed the console to check whether the discs it was running were legal or not.

Other features – like making Skype telephone calls or using the video recorder to capture specific scenes of a game – are only possible with a subscription which costs extra money.

Sony has been taking advantage of the controversy to build up the Playstation 4. It’s a good strategy, says gaming expert Stephan Freundorfer. who notes that the controversy has turned many off Microsoft.

”About nine of 10 console fans would opt for a PS4,” he says, though others note Microsoft could still save the day by offering the more popular software titles. (dpa)