NEWS - Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Was Xbox 360 a Success?

Not everyone received a Microsoft Xbox 360 in time for Christmas, and most will not have one until January or February, according to Wal-Mart. However, was the launch a success? The North American launch was November 22nd, and there were a few problems that many here at GameSHOUT were experiencing. Such as, overheating problems, scratched discs, and the waiting. Yes, the waiting seems to be the major problem as several people pre-ordered the Xbox 360 console in mid-November but never received until 3 to 4 weeks later. Some don’t even have their Xbox 360 yet. While the North American launch faced few problems, it was strong. Unfortunately, Microsoft is not able to fullfill the inventory demands. The European launch faced similar problems as North America, low inventory, Xbox 360 overheating problems and scratched discs. However, Europe was strong. Japan? Another story. Launching in Japan was embarassing for Microsoft because only 44,000 or so Xbox 360 video game consoles sold. The original Microsoft Xbox sold more. Japan just doesn’t think that the Xbox 360 is the true next-generation video game console. Gamers in Japan are talking about Sony PlayStation 3, and if not the Sony PS3, they are talking about Nintendo Revolution. At least for Microsoft, the hope is that backwards compatibility will comfort gamers who are sticking with ye olde black beast (that is, the original Xbox) for now. Indeed, not only are they promoting backwards compatibility, but the company was happy to trumpet improved graphics for old games, as well. The thinking is clear: go ahead and stick with the original Xbox, because the new games you buy will also play on the Xbox 360, and will even look better than before. This thinking can get problematic, however, when one realizes that many of the Xbox 360’s games are also available as regular Xbox games, already. There’s a swath of gamers out there who won’t buy NBA Live 06 for the Xbox because the 360 version is also out, and it looks better. When there’s only a little incentive to purchase a game, something like this can wipe it away easily. And that’s the question: are the games good enough to buy on their own merits? On some level, this old versus new question shouldn’t matter. Can’t a compelling, well promoted game sell anyway? It’s hard to say. Much like the music industry, the top 10 gaming titles often look as cheesy and played-out as the top 10 singles chart. The list is dominated by the likes of NBA Live 06, Madden NFL 06 (occupying top spots for the Xbox, and PS2), NCAA 2006, FIFA Soccer 2006, Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland, and The Sims 2. This isn’t to say that these are horrid, bad, evil games. But many games showing up on the top of the charts are sequels, and they haven’t fallen too far from the tree. This is a particular problem for EA, whose catalog is dominated by sequels. Yet EA isn’t unique in this; as Jeremy pointed out in his article on cross-platform game development, of the top 100 games, only 13 are neither sequels nor movie/TV licenses. The only way to measure Microsoft Xbox 360 success are the fans. Forget about number-crunching figures. Numbers are nice if you’re a stock-broker, but doesn’t mean anything to the video gamers that buy the console and play games on it. We really can’t say that Microsoft Xbox 360 is the dominate console, since they can’t even meet inventory demands and there are gamers out there pretty fed up with the lack of inventory. While Xbox 360’s top boss has been slamming and putting down Sony PlayStation 3 by labeling the Xbox 360 "better", we know that works for the stock-brokers and wallstreet, but that doesn’t really fly with gamers.


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