Rational gamers choose subsidized hardware, all else equal

Sony and Microsoft are giving us free hardware when they sell each console at a loss. A gamer who wants the most computing power for his buck will naturally prefer the subsidized console, ceteris paribus. Whether this is ultimately healthy for Microsoft and Sony is another matter entirely. The ultimate profitability of a game manufacturer is no concern of ours, as gamers.

One final point: if a company doesn't believe in its product enough to take a small loss at launch, what does this risk averseness say about executive confidence in the long-run prospects of the product? A larger, up-front investment indicates stronger confidence that a product will eventually be successful enough to pay for initial investment.

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