Those looking forward to getting their hands on the next generation in gaming consoles may not need to start getting the Red Bull and the No-Doze ready yet, but the end to their wait is in sight. News agencies reported today that Sony (NYSE:SNE) has said that the eagerly awaited PlayStation 3 will be unveiled at the E3 gaming convention in May. Of course, at this point, all eyes are on Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) for a better idea of when the next Xbox will hit the scene.

GameCube maker Nintendo (NASDAQ:NTDOY) really got the next-gen ball rolling, having already claimed that it's unveiling its new console, code-named Revolution, in the same time frame. Rumors have been quite rampant that Microsoft has similar plans.

For those of you who have been following the space, the latest competitive move was Sony's move to cut PlayStation 2 prices to $149 in May. Come June, Fool contributor Steven Mallas reported on some pretty impressive sales figures attributed to the price cut, as more casual gamers -- and maybe even diehards hankering for a box in every room -- responded well to the promotional pricing.

It's hardly lost on anyone that big changes in game consoles -- new product launches or price cuts -- get cash moving for the makers of gaming software, such as Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks Activision (NASDAQ:ATVI) and Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:ERTS), as well as Take-Two Interactive (NASDAQ:TTWO) and THQ (NASDAQ:THQI).

If all three companies do execute and release their new console boxes in spring, it's pretty much just like clockwork. In February, Fool contributor Dave Marino-Nachison mapped out the dynamics of the console business -- that it generally runs about five years from fresh and new to old and tired. PlayStation 2's release in 2000 started this cycle, so time's ripe for the next phase to begin. (It doesn't hurt to mention that PlayStation having beat Xbox to market is a major reason for its majority share of the market.)

Also, everybody should keep their eyes peeled for the PlayStation Portable, also known as PSP, which is rumored to be in the works for a wintertime launch in Japan. In addition to handy gaming entertainment, it will supposedly be chock full of features with the ability to play movies, music, and other media -- what could be an interesting foil to planned gadgets such as Microsoft's Portable Media Center, not to mention Apple's iPod.

All this said, it would hardly be surprising if, despite the rock-bottom prices, console purchases die off as the year wears on. It seems hard to imagine that lots of avid gamers won't just wait for the latest and greatest, at this point. So, the motto for 2005 may very well be, "Let the (next-generation) games begin."

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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.