Christmas is shaping up to be a very merry affair for Kiwi gamers.

This week, the giants of the gaming world used their flashy briefing conferences in downtown Los Angeles to announce release details and pricing information for the next generation of digital fun machines.

Microsoft was first out of the blocks on the day before the start of the Electronic Entertainment Expo - or E3- telling a packed house that the Xbox One would be on sale in 21 markets in November.

Those markets include New Zealand, where the console, packing a 500GB hard drive and Blu-Ray capability, is expected to retail for $749.


The current Xbox 360 has undergone a facelift and now sports a design inspired by its successor's look.

Representatives have not yet confirmed when the smaller and quieter Xbox 360 will be sold in New Zealand, but American buyers can get theirs immediately.

Later the same day, Sony responded with details on the PlayStation 4 (pictured), which will sell for $650 when it launches in New Zealand, but it is not known when that will be.

What is known is that the PS4 will play used games, and game discs can be lent, traded, sold, or kept without conditions, unlike the Xbox One.

But Don Mattrick, president of interactive entertainment at Microsoft, told the E3 crowd: "Xbox One is designed to deliver a whole new generation of blockbuster games, television and entertainment in a powerful, all-in-one device," said Don Mattrick, president of interactive entertainment at Microsoft, as the company revealed details at the E3 gaming conference in Los Angeles.

"Our unique, modern architecture brings simplicity to the living room and, for the first time ever, the ability to instantly switch across your games and entertainment."

The new console will respond to voice commands such as "Xbox On" to launch a personalised home screen and will allow users to easily switch between games and television.

As E3 continues, both Sony and Microsoft companies are expected to showcase blockbuster titles for high-powered machines that go beyond rich, immersive game play to expanded capabilities for socialising online and accessing films, music, sports, or television shows.

While next-generation consoles, including the Wii U released by Nintendo late last year, will dominate E3, digital play has changed considerably from when their predecessors arrived some seven years ago.

Smartphones and tablet computers have powered a boom in games available for free, with money made from ads or in-game purchases.

"I think the console players will continue to be in denial about what is really going on," said Clive Downie, who spent 17 years at videogame titan Electronic Arts before becoming chief at mobile games platform company DeNA.

"People's time is being eroded, so console sales will be eroded by people playing on mobile devices."

- TimeOut, additional reporting by agencies