How Green is Your Gaming?

wii-prius.jpgKatie just passed me word that the latest Playstation 3 model is getting a chipset that’ll greatly reduce its power consumption, from 200 watts to 135. Some Diggers are calling this an eco-friendly move: “By reducing power consumption on the new play station, Sony is trying to attract the Green crowd,” one proclaims. EcoGeek concurs: “PS3 Gets Green(er)“. While I cover games for GigaOM, this is an angle I haven’t given much thought to until now. With the PS3 so far behind in the next-gen console wars (currently owning just 17 percent of the total console market, according to VGChartz), can Sony boost its appeal with environmentally sensitive gamers?

Hard to believe, because even with that reduction, the PS3 is a power hog. It’s like installing a low-wattage light bulb in the glove compartment of a Hummer and calling it eco-friendly. Which game platform provides the real green alternative?
An EcoGeek reader links to a fascinating HardcoreNet article from February, investigating the power consumption of the three next-gen consoles alongside the PC, and the contrast is stark enough to make Al Gore drop his fried chicken:

According to their report, the Xbox 360 runs at a peak consumption of 186 watts, the PC at 209 watts…while the Nintendo Wii consumes a mere 18.4 watts at peak. And because it comes with wireless connection and a downloadable Opera web browser, it’s even a limited alternative to the power-sucking PC. What’s more, its wireless remote and crossover games makes it appealing to household members besides the 18-34 dude demographic which comprise the 360/PS3’s main audience, offering a low-power entertainment alternative to everyone.

Essentially, the Wii is the Prius of game consoles. But unlike the car industry, where the Prius is still niche, the Wii is the undisputed market leader, with one forecast suggesting it’ll be in one out of every three homes by 2011. So maybe environmentalists will take up the push for even greater Nintendo domination. Suggested slogan: “Plant a tree, buy a Wii.”

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