Is it possible to be a multi-console devotee or can you only truly remain faithful to one?

Nintendo’s launch of its innovative Wii console intensifies the competition in this fearsome and lucrative market, with the latest incarnations of both Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox already prompting a buying frenzy.

Wii will need to capture the public’s imagination in order to challenge both the PS3 and Xbox 360 but it has got off to a good start. Whereas Sony stumbled from one mistake to another in launching the PS3 (see my post: Not playing the game), Nintendo has so far earned a resounding thumbs-up from customers and many journalists.

With the Microsoft corporate machinery moving slickly through the gears to give Xbox 360 a solid foundation, the battle for Christmas sales is well and truly under way.

But how many customers queuing for the newly-launched Wii will stay loyal to Nintendo? What proportion of regular gamers will install their Wii alongside their existing PS or Xbox? How do the big three create any kind of brand loyalty?

In terms of some games there are very clear divisions and brand loyalties at work. In the football game market, for example, consumers tend to fall into one of two camps and either support the Fifa franchise or PES game.

The division often comes down to whether you prefer authentic kits and teams or authentic playing ability – Fifa provides realism in terms of the players and leagues, PES is the more pleasing for those who want a purely football game.

Personally, I’m a fan of the Fifa franchise and Sony’s console. But when my wife asked me if I’d be interested in investing in either an Xbox or Wii, my first reaction was “Why?”.

It got me thinking of the benefits of having more than just Sony’s PS2 available to meet my requirements and my moods.

As I’m a fairly limited game-player – I tend to concentrate on sports games – the PS2 suits me perfectly. But both Wii, with its interactive ability and the Xbox with its enhanced graphics could provide a new dimension to my favourite games.

However, I’m resolved to sticking with the PS and if I was to invest in another console it would be Sony’s handheld PSP. This is one gamer that is brand loyal.

All this talk of video games and new consoles has once again led some to raise the issue of whether sitting in front of a TV screen and immersing yourself in a virtual world is particularly healthy for either mind or body. The argument continues to be trotted out that exposure to violent video games can lead the player to act violently in real life.

I have always regarded this as a bogus argument and the “evidence” presented to back up the case has tended to look flimsy and circumstantial.

My wife summed it up perfectly. She pointed out that for the five or so years we’ve known each other I’ve played my Fifa games on the PS pretty every week.

Never once have I been even remotely tempted to pick up a football and run about, kicking it around our local park.

What further proof do you need?

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