Japan vs. North America

When the PS2 launched in 2000 and the Xbox followed in 2001, the game industry was still very heavily dependent on Japanese developers and Japanese support. Microsoft learned all too quickly that without a foothold in Japan, dreams of worldwide domination of the Xbox system would be dashed. The PS2 continued outselling the Xbox worldwide, thanks in part to a year headstart and the fact that the PS2 was supported heavily in Japan, North America, UK and Australia.

North America

But a funny thing happened on the way to the next generation. North American game developers (note: some create outside of North America but are published by NA companies) blossomed and without a doubt carved out the winning titles in the latest console wars. Splinter Cell, Prince of Persia, Grand Theft Auto, Halo, Hitman, Spider-Man, Tony Hawk, Need For Speed, Project Gotham Racing, Forza Motorsport, Mortal Kombat, Madden, Rainbow Six, Burnout, Call of Duty, MechAssault, Doom 3, Half Life 2, Medal of Honor, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and amazingly the list goes on and on. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty darn proud of the efforts of our North American developers. These talented people deserve a round of applause.

"A funny thing happened on the way to the next generation."

Japan

Not that the Japanese were asleep at the wheel, but it's safe to say that most of the blockbuster titles they delivered were aimed at a slightly more intermediate to hardcore market. Franchises like Ninja Gaiden, Final Fantasy X and up, Dead or Alive, Soul Calibur, Devil May Cry, Fatal Frame, Onimusha, Resident Evil, Viewtiful Joe, Dynasty Warriors and Gran Turismo proved that the Japanese still have what it takes to deliver great gaming experiences, but it's nice to know especially for Microsoft, that they aren't the only game in town - excuse the pun.

Even though all of the franchises mentioned are guaranteed hits for the most part, there are only a handful that will actually appeal to the widest of audiences cementing them into "killer app" status (if the game is good of course) which by definition means you'll buy the console to play the game. At the same time it's extremely doubtful we'll see many first rate franchise titles like Resident Evil, Halo, Grand Theft Auto, Gran Turismo or a new Final Fantasy game at any of the system launches so gamers will have to settle for runner up titles which could be any from the list above.

Out With The Old....

It's obvious that we'll see old franchises return on the new systems, that's a given. Some will flourish; some will fade. Looking back to the PSone generation, titles such as Tomb Raider, Twisted Metal, Soul Reaver and WipEout to name a few, lost their footing during the current generation of systems and although it's hard to imagine, the same could happen to this current crop of heavyhitters.

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by Vaughn