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Brevity
05-22-2005, 11:36 AM
Every Thursday Stephen Speicher contributes The Clicker, a weekly column on television and technology:

The Clicker: Xbox 360’s battle for the rest of us


Well, E3 is wrapping up. The big three have announced their respective wares. Specs have been released and it’s now time to sort the reality from the fantasy. Was that a cut-shot? Was that game play? What did we just see?

Fear not; as you read this, gamers everywhere are voraciously digesting polygon information. They’re carefully considering how many teraflops each machine can handle, and, with all the specs in mind, they’re rendering their educated decisions on which boxes they prefer.

In short, they’re boiling down the hard work of electrical engineers, software developers and researchers into such insightful comments as “PS3 rox! MS$ bite this. W00t!” On the flip side, Xbox fans are busy praising Sony’s surprising yet visionary decision to enter the emerging refrigerator/gaming-console market.



I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a gamer. I don’t understand the culture. I don’t understand the cult-like support of one box over another. My gaming prowess took a severe nosedive the moment they added that damnable second button to the joystick. My skillz are, in fact, quite weak. So why might I, and my sometime-game-playing brethren, be the key to Microsoft’s success?

Whether J Allard likes to admit it or not, the Xbox 360 isn’t just a game machine. It’s the first of the entertainment consoles. Call it a media hub. Call it a Trojan horse. Call it what you like, but the Xbox 360 is positioned to become Microsoft’s foothold in the living room and beyond.

It somehow seems fitting that Allard, the man credited with Microsoft’s infamous Internet mantra of “embrace and extend,” is now leading three different versions of the strategy.

Version 1: Embrace the hardcore gamer — extend to the casual user.

By all accounts the PS3’s specs are better. However, even PS3 fans will begrudgingly admit that the difference in real-world performance will be minimal. The ugly truth of the spec wars is that they don’t really matter. First-generation games won’t come close to maxing out the capacity of either of the consoles. Furthermore, as both boxes embrace high-definition, the bottleneck for many people will be their own televisions. The question then becomes: will hardcore gamers buy one? Judging by the reaction to the unveiling, the answer appears to be yes. More often than not I hear statements to the tune of “truth be told I’ll probably end up buying one of each.”

But what about the rest of us? For those casual users Microsoft has developed a message: gaming on the 360 is a social experience. Chat. Video Conference. Talk trash. Have fun with your friends. They’ve worked hard to convince the casual gamer that gaming doesn’t have to be about calloused thumbs and twelve-hour marathon sessions.

Through Xbox Live Microsoft has addressed both the desires of the hardcore gamers and the social gamers.

Sony’s messaging still seems to be: we’re the power-option in gaming.

Version 2: Embrace the gaming — extend to the multimedia

“WOW,” I thought, “Blu-ray and 1080p – now we’re talking. PS3 is getting serious about their HD.” But that’s it. While Microsoft is busy telling everyone and their mother how, when combined with Media Center Edition, the 360 will give you seamless access to your TV shows, your pictures, your music, etc., Sony has either remained quiet or has failed to properly message its multimedia strategy.

If the bulk of Sony’s multimedia message is a signal (1080p) that 99.9% of displays can’t show and even fewer can accept and a storage format that could be next generation’s Betamax, Sony isn’t winning the hearts of the casual user.

Microsoft, on the other hand, will be building its Media Center functionality into the next generation of Windows and allowing its 360 box to remote the same user experience that today’s PC-based Media Center users enjoy. It’s a compelling story.

Version 3: Embrace the living room – extend to the rest of the house.

Ordinarily it’s suicide to hint that better products might be coming later. Traditional wisdom says that you cannibalize your own sales. So why is Steve Ballmer all but saying that future versions of the 360 will come equipped with either HD-DVD or Blu-ray (whichever wins)?

Could it be that he’s not worried? Unlike the traditional gaming console, the 360 has been designed to be useful outside the realm of games. With the inclusion of its extender technology Microsoft is giving users an excuse to put one in every room. As such, it’s not inconceivable that users might buy one on launch and later upgrade their main source, shifting their first-generation 360 to another room.

With a console in multiple rooms which non-exclusive game are you more inclined to buy?

Perhaps, in the end, the casual user doesn’t matter, but if we do, so far the 360’s messaging appears to be speaking to those of us with the soft, buttery thumbs of occasional gamers.

Source (http://engadget.com/entry/1234000973043968/#comments)
Dude had some great points.

Nurb
05-22-2005, 02:09 PM
yea, its not a gaming console anymore, its a media hub as the guy pointed out, which has me 'worried' since we all know what happens when you try to please everyone. What makes me chuckle is that everyone laughed at the Sony PSX entertainment center, but it looks like thats what we're getting in Xbox form

AlphaRaptor
05-22-2005, 10:26 PM
yea, its not a gaming console anymore, its a media hub as the guy pointed out, which has me 'worried' since we all know what happens when you try to please everyone. What makes me chuckle is that everyone laughed at the Sony PSX entertainment center, but it looks like thats what we're getting in Xbox form
Na, the PSX was a plain old PS2 with DVR, stuff you could get for less than $200, but Sony charged $950 for that peice of crap. :rofl:

Variation-XBA
05-22-2005, 10:51 PM
By all accounts the PS3’s specs are better. However, even PS3 fans will begrudgingly admit that the difference in real-world performance will be minimal. The ugly truth of the spec wars is that they don’t really matter. First-generation games won’t come close to maxing out the capacity of either of the consoles. Furthermore, as both boxes embrace high-definition, the bottleneck for many people will be their own televisions.

Couldn't have said it better myself. That's why specs dont matter.