Hardcore gamers and parents finally have something in common: They feel an electric, palpable intensity invading their collective psyches, a burning sensation that's compelling them to compete with one another to score a certain item. That item? The highly coveted PlayStation 3, courtesy of Sony (NYSE:SNE).

The vast majority of gaming enthusiasts combing the retail shelves will come up empty-handed because there's just too much demand. Unfortunately, Sony is having a hard time producing the machine, but that's to be expected, because, it seems, new, powerful consoles always have difficulties. Nevertheless, according to the Associated Press, Sony intends to meet its goal of moving 2 million units by the end of this year and 6 million units by March.

It's too bad Sony couldn't have gotten all of them out before the turn of the year. By now, the momentum behind the Nintendo Wii has become a well-known story, and that's got to sting the executives at the electronics giant. Not only that, but the Nintendo DS is taking attention away from the company's PSP system. In my area, no one is having a problem snagging a PSP; finding a DS -- especially a pink one -- is an exercise in excruciating torture.

The one-two punch of the DS and the Wii will be difficult to overcome. In fact, the Wii's unique controller system is panning out as one heck of an innovation, almost turning every game into a must-play story. The true killer app, of course, is the new entry in one of the most famous fantasy franchises in gaming -- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. You use the dual-controller system as a sword and a shield -- who could ask for anything more? Stepping away from the Nintendo company for a second, Reuters reported that the best-selling video game in November didn't come from Sony, Activision (NASDAQ:ATVI), or Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:ERTS), but was Gears of War, the new killer app Epic Games developed exclusively for Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Xbox 360. Market research firm NPD said that 1 million copies have already been sold. This is yet another impetus for the PlayStation brand to get moving.

Should Sony's system be counted out? Even with all its problems, I'd say the answer is no. The reason is simple: The PlayStation 3 isn't always going to be in short supply. Several months from now, no one will recall a day when there was precious little chance of snagging the new console with Blu-ray capability. Plus, one has to wonder if the Wii controller system might eventually fall flat. After all, it definitely does require a higher physical commitment -- will users, especially those in the casual camp, yearn for the days when one merely pressed buttons instead of waving a remote-control-like device?

Right now, the honeymoon between the Wii and consumers shows no sign of ending. But when Sony moves those 6 million units, and when the power of the new hardware's Cell processor is in front of a mass audience, it will be fascinating to see how the dynamic changes. Although the company's missteps have been painfully embarrassing, the woes may be short-term. No matter what, though, keep your eye on the major publishers as potential investment ideas for the video-gaming zeitgeist. But don't think about Sony, because it might be too big to offer a robust return -- not to mention that the economics behind the loss-leader hardware business is not attractive.

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Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns shares of Activision. As of this writing, he was ranked 3,690 out of 17,226 investors in the Motley Fool CAPS system. Don't know what CAPS is? Check it out. Microsoft is an Inside Value selection. The Fool has a disclosure policy.