All three major makers are also facing a growing challenge from online games - many free - played on smartphones and tablets as well as PCs.
Microsoft will unveil the new Xbox at its Seattle HQ on Tuesday, US time - a rare case in which media has been invited to a launch in the Redmond offices. In Australia the local subsidiary is publicly inviting Xbox fanatics and sleepless Australians to watch the event online at 3am on Wednesday.
The new model is expected to feature broadband connections which support HD movie downloads and streaming, and multi-player gaming that allows users to compete across the world. The user interface may feature smaller "Live Tiles", similar to those Microsoft is preparing for Windows 8.1, according to one Web report.
But whatever the new machine can do, it won't be in consumers' hands for some time. It will be a centrepiece at the coming E3 gaming show in Las Vegas in June - but most observers believe the machine won't actually go on sale worldwide until the run-up to the Christmas/New Year holiday season.
The new machine is of "massive importance to Microsoft," according to analyst P.J. McNealy, CEO and founder of Digital World Research. "It is a piece of a larger war for the consumer that it is battling. They want to be fully integrated with the consumer, whether it's in the living-room or mobile.
"Arguably the battle against both Apple and Google for dominating a consumer's time share [matters more] than taking on Sony and Nintendo directly."