The relentless Xbox machine rolls on

Challenger 2 main battle tank

I am very, very glad that I am not in competition with Microsoft’s Xbox division. They really are grinding the opposition down. And it is not as if they are attacking on one front. No, Microsoft believe in being better in every single possible way. The Xbox 360 is now, by a huge margin, the gamer’s choice of consoles from this generation. It is cheaper to buy, has far more games available and has the best online gaming service on earth, Xbox Live. Little wonder that in September Microsoft sold $404 million of Xbox 360 hardware, software and peripherals in North America alone. A phenomenal result.

Part of the success is down to platform exclusives. Halo is massive and Halo 3: ODST has done the business again through this summer. But there is also Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction, Forza Motorsport 3 and Left 4 Dead 2 with Mass Effect 2, Gears of War 3, Crackdown 2, Halo Reach and Alan Wake to come. Relentless and formidable.

There is the constant upgrading of Live to become a media hub, with HD movie rental, Facebook, Twitter, Zune and Sky Player on the way. This makes the 360 by far the most powerful entertainment hub that you can connect to your television. And it is a lesson to everyone that Microsoft are a software company, they see the Live service as being infinitely more important than the 360. The 360 is just the current box of choice, there will ultimately be far more that can use the service.

Also, quietly but persistently, Microsoft are moving content distribution away from the physical plastic and cardboard sold at retail. Online is the future and Microsoft are already there. They keep adding to the number of game titles that can be directly downloaded with a new batch just released including Army of Two, Midnight Club: Los Angeles, and Sonic Unleashed. Microsoft are making the transition gradually so as to wean both retail and consumers to the new reality. But the rumours are that the Xbox 3/ Xbox 720 / Project Phoenix will be a download only device.

As if the weren’t enough we have Project Natal on the way. An implementation of gesture interface technology that is a quantum leap beyond anything else. This will bring infinite new possibilities to how humans interact with video games and the whole online world. New levels on immersiveness will transform the potential of the medium. We are about to make a paradigm shift of epic proportions.

People scoff when I say that I think that the Xbox 360 will ultimately outsell the current non HD version of the Nintendo Wii. But I still think that it will. The 360 represents amazingly brilliant value for money, yet Microsoft can easily sell it even cheaper. As a gaming device it massively outperforms the alternatives. And it is evolving to do so much more as well.


  1. It appears to me that there are fanboys on both sides – as there always is in situations like this. This isn’t a new or startling situation….let me take you back 25-30 years ago with the initial console wars (Atari, Intellivision, Colecovision, and others). There was a battle between ‘East’ and ‘West’, there were dozens of poor games and a few gems…the scope and money involved now is much much greater, but the general idea is the same. As Woodins alludes to above, this kind of competition is healthy for the whole industry.

    I’ve done some limited playing on the 360, the Wii, and the PS3. Still do most of my gaming on the PS2, my PC, or one of my vintage consoles/computers. If I was buying, it would probably be a Wii, because I have little boy who would get the most enjoyment from it at this stage. If it was just me….I don’t know. Obviously both the 360 and the PS3 have enough to offer to create camps on both sides of the fence, and again that is healthy and spurs on more innovation and development, as well as encouraging all companies to treat both developers and customers better.

    As with so many things, the technical innovations aren’t always the most important factor – marketing is (Bruce’s area of expertise). McDonalds certainly isn’t the best tasting or highest quality hamburger in the world, but their marketing made them the biggest and most successful. Kiss may not have been the most technically adept band, but they sold a lot of albums. The Motorola Q was a more flexible smartphone than most Blackberry models, but it couldn’t outsell the Blackberry marketing machine. People may scoff at Nintendo and the Wii, but I’m sure they don’t care, sitting atop the pile of money they have made off it…the list goes on 🙂

    Those of us who are interested and informed of the technical points of each console are a smaller segment of the general buyers usually. The winner of these console wars won’t necessarily be the the one with greatest technical innovations. Lets all sit back and enjoy the variety that will come out of it though.

  2. @Docred

    Very nice post:)

    Marketing is the name of the game for sales, definitely.

    Beyond that, to choose a system that suits you, as the consumer the most, technical superiority or marketing might not be relevant any longer. It is the system that best suit your individual needs that matters.

    For me, I need the media capability, free PSN and the exclusive games PS3 provide, so the PS3 was the obvious choice. For people that prefer the Halo and Gears, 360 is the obvious choice. For casual gamers, the Wii is the obvious choice.

    Thats all that mattered isn’t it?

  3. I think you are significantly overstating things, Bruce…

    On XBox’s library: Just about every game that rates well on 360 either gets ported or has a comparable PS3 equivalent. Notable exceptions include The Orange Box (also on PC), Gears of War 2 (yet another shooter), Ninja Gaiden 2, and Banjo-Kazooie. That said, they’ve done very well attracting American developers – this is the sole source of their success. The indie game scene on XBL is pretty fair as consoles go, but iPhones far outmatch that.

    On XBL: Its success is related – I believe – to their earlier release and pricepoint. The competition features totally free multiplayer, and though Nintendo has been reticent to deploy this in any mentionable fashion, the PSN is a thriving community. Nothing like XBL of course (again: price and time), but still significant.

    On Natal: As much of a drooling technophile as I am, I don’t believe Natal will change how we interact with games. It’s too new for the fine control that serious games require, and MS is too late to compete in casual games (re: Nintendo). It *will* be a paradigm shift for how we interact with media devices (menus, remote-free handling), but seeing as Blu-Ray will start outselling regular DVDs by 2012, the future gains from this aspect are negligible. Natal will be the archetype for the future of all media devices – PS4, XBOX720, and Nintendo WiiPlus, Blu-Ray Players, Media Center PCs, the terminals at your local aquarium… everything.

    On Digital Download: If they plan to phase out tactile media, they’d better release a huge hard drive. None of the big three are in a position to oust physical media;. Not with the kind of sales they want. Memory is cheap nowadays, but not *that* cheap.

    I’m just as excited as you about all the wonderful things we’ve gotten out of this competition between Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, and far be it from me to disagree with an industry vet, but I think you’ve significantly overstated the matter.

    I think you meant to write “Microsoft is in a serious power position lately. Their mistakes this generation have been negligible, and though the future is cloudy thanks to Sony finally getting their act together and Nintendo being so dominant in their push for a broader target market, one thing is for sure: the 360 will be an important piece of gaming – and media – history.” I agree with /that/ all the way.

  4. The big “three” (or four, if Apple bring out a console) should all sit down together, devise a standardised machine that is easy to work with, and then all they have to concentrate on is fighting over each other with their content. Oh no wait, thats been done already, there was a machine out once called a “PC” . . . . . .Damn bitorrent lol.

  5. Well now Netflix is coming to the PS3, that shows that MS and it’s 360 console is losing it’s exclusive features. Now that Netflix will be coming to PS3 the console will sell much more than ever before in the USA.

    The partnership further solidifies the PS3 system as the most complete home entertainment hub on the market today, enabling consumers to play high-definition games, watch Blu-ray movies, listen to music, view photos, browse the Internet, and download content from PSN − from exclusive games to blockbuster movies and popular TV shows. PS3 system owners will soon enjoy an unparalleled experience watching their favorite movies and TV shows streamed instantly from Netflix, downloading from the PSN or watching Blu-ray/DVD media. The Netflix offering expands on the entertainment experience delivered to PS3 system owners via PSN.

    For only $8.99 a month, Netflix members can instantly watch unlimited movies and TV episodes streamed to their TVs and computers via Netflix ready devices such as the PS3 system and can receive unlimited DVDs delivered quickly to their homes.

  6. Bruce on games?

    Sure it’s not BruceOnDrugs?

    This reeks of rabid fanboism and from a guy that has been professionally in the industry.

    It’s just a console. This gen is owned by the Wii and we have healthy 2nd and 3rds. My gut feeling is that the 360 will end up 3rd.

  7. i dont get it, didnt sony sell like 800,000 mor ps3s than xbox the last several weeks, closing the lead the xbox has

  8. Quite a strong debate you’ve started here Bruce!

    Comparing the two consoles (and yes having played both enough to validly comment), whilst Sony has the technology superiority with the Blu-ray player and hardware, the Xbox 360 for me has a far better online environment and much better platforms still. However with the PS3 falling in price and as of yet not charging for it’s online play, there is scope to catch up. But it is still challenging to Compare Xbox360 with the PS3, as each has their own merits.

  9. stop bitching and buy both just get the 360 first while i agree that sony has arguably better exclusives this year you people have to wake up and realize the last gen is over third party is running **** now for every first party title there;s a third party title that is usually better and massively outsells it and 360 is by far the best system for 3rd party title also if not for the **** d pad which thankfully only a few games use these days that controller is fn perfect so much so that i modded it to work on my ps3 cause that controller is outdated **** that lots of people still like simply cause they got used to it or in some cases grew up using also online games especially shooters are far more challenging on 360 games like mw that i own in on ps3 im just average on 360 plus paradoxically it’s easier to chat as ps3 allows the use of any bluetooth yet psn users are awful silent compared to live users getting into online gaming very late shows on psn use live and psn side by side and i gaurantee you will never bitch about the 4 bucks a month you may even wish psn would charge so it would get some of those features but like i said most ps3 owners are ps2 owners that missed out on a years worth of great games really 2 if you take into account ther really **** games ps3 had up till 2008 so psn seems like a great leap as this is the first console that playstation loyalists have ever played online i have no dobt ps3 will eventually outsell 360 and wii but not for the reasons sony would lead you to beleive they will do it it will be because they will support well after the new systems make it irrelavent and it will be a welfare purchase as the ps2 has been for people that can’t afford next gen consoles which will probably utilise the already in existence holographic disks that have 50 to 100 times the capacity of a blu ray and as sony has’nt even began to recoup it’s investment in blu ray much less profit from it their only choice would be to invest more money in an attempt to bring blu ray capacity up to a point where it’s not laghable in com[parison to hvd discs people dont understand that hd dvd actually looked better than blu ray but was chosen noet for capacity but copyright protection and the fact that warner bros endorsed it to cut out the street corner dvd salesmen sony should do more for us customers i bought the launch ps3 many people didn’t hoping for a price cut but insteat of a true price cut they sold a cut rate ps3 which got less and less capable with each revision the slim being the ultimate expression of a gimped ps3 meanwhile 360 has gotten better and better that loud aircraft sound has been a bad memory since 2008 it’s cooler quieter and best of all i have yet to hear of this version failing it looks the same as my old one but is a very differnt beast indeed so people i actually think 360 is way better for gaming while ps3 has advantages in other areas but i buy consoles for gaming and in my opinion 360 is far better in that regard so get both systems and form an honest opinion intead of reading it and regugitating it on the internet

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