Summer is characteristically slow for videogames. More so this year, as we're in the middle of the transitional year - where the current consoles (Sony's PS2, Microsoft's Xbox and Nintendo's Gamecube) are gradually phased out in preparation for the next generation of hardware. This next generation will finally arrive in November, with the launch of the hotly anticipated Playstation 3 and Nintendo's Wii - joining the Xbox 360 that is already enjoying a 12-month head start over the competition.
The smart money is on PS3 running away with the lion's share of consumers' money this Christmas. Sony has dominated hardware sales for two generations and, technically, the PS3 is the most powerful of the consoles. It's superior in terms of its graphical capabilities, has advanced multimedia functionality, a built-in Blu-Ray player and has the most recognisable brand.
However, the next generation won't be won that easily. Sony's potential Achilles heel is its prohibitive price. Coming in at £350 for a 20Gb, or £450 for the 60Gb unit, it's hardly an impulse purchase. Supplies are also traditionally low for the launch of any home console - so much so that pre-orders are being taken at many retailers.
Microsoft on the other hand, has no such worries. Despite teething problems last Christmas, its Xbox 360 has already established a foothold in the market. Its online capabilities are proven, delivering reliable multiplayer gaming and a wealth of regular downloadable content for subscribers to its Live service. It also boasts the most impressive line-up of games this Christmas.
Gears of War, a gritty, futuristic shooter, is far and away the most exciting prospect for the 360. Technically, it eclipses every other game on this year's release schedule and will undoubtedly be the holiday season blockbuster.
Which leaves us with Nintendo's Wii. The runner-up for the past two generations with its N64 and Gamecube consoles, Nintendo is attempting something a little different this time. The Wii's innovative motion-sensing controller offers a completely fresh and unique experience. Combined with Nintendo's flare for creating enjoyable, family-focused software and a price tag rumoured to be less than £150, the Wii is looking increasingly attractive.