Recent figures published by MyVoucherCodes.co.uk appear to reveal that this year's most sought after games console is the Xbox 360, outselling its nearest rival the PS3 by a ratio of 3:1.
But which machine really deserves to be crowned king of the console wars this Christmas; Microsoft's Xbox 360, Sony's PS3 or Nintendo's Wii?
To decide which console is worthy of your cash, we'll be looking at seven key areas that need to be of the highest quality in order to warrant your attention: Games, Exclusive Titles, Media Options, Online Gaming, Extras, Future Features and of course Value For Money. We'll then tot up the results to see who comes out on top.
A year ago this would have been an easy first point for the Xbox 360, with a massive range of quality titles. However it's been a superb year for games on the PS3, with its catalogue steadily growing. There is a fair bit of cross over between both gaming catalogues, with massive titles such as Assassins Creed 2, the Rock Band and Guitar Hero games, Modern Warfare 2, Left 4 Dead 2 and Batman: Arkham Asylum all available on both machines. It's a hard one to judge for now until you consider exclusive titles (which we'll be getting at next). The Xbox 360 and PS3 both boast HD gaming, becoming increasingly cinematic in scope and presentation. The Wii offers a far different experience; being a motion-gaming console, many titles such as Wii Sports Resort or Wii Fit offer pick-up-and-play fun that all the family can enjoy. However, other than first-party Nintendo titles, Wii games often lack the polish of those on the PS3 or 360.
Winner - Xbox 360 (for quantity alone over the PS3)
If you're only going to be able to afford one console this Christmas, knowing which titles are exclusive to each is a massive consideration. Again, last year the Xbox 360 would have won this one hands down, but it's anyone's game this year. PS3 owners can pick up the excellent Uncharted 2, Killzone 2 and Little Big Planet, with God of War 3 and Gran Turismo 5 all on the horizon. Xbox 360 owners can enjoy Forza Motorsport 3, the Halo titles, Fable II, the Gears of War series and Mass Effect (also available on the PC), with its sequel not far off into the New Year. Wii owners can delight in the fact that they will be the only people with access to gaming legends such as Mario, Zelda and Samus Aran of Metroid, though ports of games available on other consoles are often of a poorer quality.
Winner - PS3 (because Uncharted 2 is ridiculously good, and for turning the AAA exclusive title drought around this year)
Easy one this; the PS3, hands down. Not only does it throw in a top notch Blu-ray player, but compatibility with all sorts of media files is available. Both the PS3 and the Xbox 360 have media server capabilities, but the PS3's sleek Xross Media Bar UI and built in Wi-Fi make setting up these features very simple. The PS3 has also recently launched the Playstation Network Video Delivery service, allowing you to download or rent movies straight to your console. The Xbox 360 has DVD- playback and the option to download HD films too, but so far no Blu-ray option, despite constant rumours of an add-on in the pipeline. Both the PS3 and Xbox 360 have USB ports, and support many music files such as MP3's, which can then be integrated into the soundtracks of many games. The Wii is really weak here: no Blu-ray, DVD, no movie downloads, no nothing.
There's no denying the Xbox 360 has a thriving online community. 2 million users were clocked using the service simultaneously the week Modern Warfare 2 came out. There's no dearth of competitors to take on, but be prepared to get regularly battered by seven year-olds from the states. Subscription fees apply to become an Xbox Live Gold member (£40 for 12 months), and you'll also need an add-on to go wireless that costs around £45, but you do get regular content updates, lots of affordable and high quality downloadable games and a good service for the money. PS3 and Wii owners can enjoy the luxury of going online for free, which is obviously ace. There aren't a huge number of players online on the Wii, but they do have access to some real gems from the Nintendo gaming back catalogue. The PS3 has a growing userbase, all keen to get online and play for free. Downloadable games content is similar to the Xbox 360, though smaller in range, but does feature some classic PS1 titles such as Metal Gear Solid.
Winner - Tied (Xbox 360 offers the best online service but is costly, the PS3 and Wii offerings are free and have some good content but, for the moment at least, are on a smaller scale than Microsoft)
The Wii and its channel set-up is a simple and easy to use portal to lots of features such as a web browser and BBC iPlayer, but it just cant compete with the PS3 and Xbox 360's offerings. PS3 users also have a web browser and dedicated iPlayer app, but also have access to Facebook too, with a whole slew of other add-ons on the way. Though it doesn't have an iPlayer, the Xbox 360 has everything else; Facebook, Twitter, Last FM, Sky Digital. Lots to be getting on with for 360 owners.
Winner - Xbox 360
Both the PS3 and Xbox 360 look set to throw new attempts at motion gaming into the console mix next year. In fact, the Xbox 360's Natal motion-controller is claimed to be so revolutionary as to be a console changing device. Rumours still abound for a Wii HD, but this would come in the form of a brand new console, not a feature, so should be viewed perhaps as a mark against buying a current-generation Wii.
Winner - Xbox 360
Value For Money
The Xbox 360 budget Arcade machine will set you back around £150, but to get the most out of the console the £200 Elite version with 120GB hard drive is the best option. A basic Wii package will cost £100, but keep in mind it's pretty slim on content straight out of the box. The PS3 offers the best value for money; the PS3 Slim with 120GB hard drive costs around £250, but for that you're not only getting a gaming platform, but also a top-notch Blu-ray player, free online gaming, Wi-Fi straight out of the box and immediate access to features such as BBC iPlayer.
Winner - PS3
Overall Winner - PS3
It's a close run race, but if I had to pick an overall winner, I'd side with the PS3. The Xbox 360 performs well, particularly in the breadth of its available content, but is let down by its costly albeit excellent online service. Finally affordable at £250, the PS3 has had an excellent year for exclusive titles and add-ons. The built in Blu-ray and free online gaming represent excellent value for money, and there are some hot titles lined-up for the New Year. I know which console I'd want Santa to leave under my tree.