It's been two and a half months since that hectic November when the entire world's attention was focused on the video game industry. Sony and Nntendo launched their new PS3 and Wii consoles in North America. Microsoft's Xbox 360 console also did well, benefiting from the low shipments of the PS3 and Wii along with the sales success of Epic's action game Gears of War. Since then things have calmed down a little bit in the console wars but there is still a bit of sniping from all three sides and despite what certain financial analysts have predicted the truth is that this current console conflict is still up for grabs. However, never let it be said that we at FiringSquad aren't helpful to all three sides in this war. In this feature we take a look at current state of the console war and give our recommendations to all three companies so they can come out on top.
Xbox 360 Battle Report:
In the last console war, Microsoft's original Xbox didn't do badly. It came out a year after Sony's PS2 yet still managed to topple Nintendo's GameCube in the US and Europe. Microsoft accomplished this not just because it developed advanced hardware and had some solid exclusive games like Halo but it also benefited from Nintendo's rather pedestrian attitude towards the GameCube and to third party game developers.
Microsoft surprised everyone by getting a year's head start on the competition with the Xbox 360 and by all accounts that was indeed the smart move. There were plenty of Xbox 360s on sales this past Christmas to counter the low shipment amounts of the PS3 and Wii. Microsoft has now shipped over 10 million units to stores (although there is still some debate on whether it has actually sold that amount) It also helped that the Xbox 360 was truly a multimedia device that Microsoft could update with new features, such as the new movie and TV video downloads, Xbox Live Arcade games and add-ons for existing titles.
One thing that we have seen written about the Xbox 360 from more than one respected game journalist is that the Xbox 360 console is, in their eyes, aimed at the hardcore gamer. We dispute this notion simply because of one thing; Xbox Live Arcade. For the price of a full Xbox 360 game, people can download a bunch of smaller title that range from ports of classic titles like Ms Pac-Man to original titles like Geometry Wars and more. Above all let us not forget about Uno, the Xbox 360 version of the classic card game, becoming the number one most downloaded and played Xbox Live Arcade game. It's certainly not a hardcore game by any stretch of the imagination.
The Xbox 360 is the most balanced of the three consoles in the current war. It can compete in price, features, number of great games and its Xbox Live service is second to none. Microsoft has even taken the idea of supporting Xbox 360 players to a whole new level with things like the Gamertag ID that let's other Xbox 360 gamers see what games you like to play, what Achievements you have made and more. Microsoft's PR is also first rate, letting web sites like www.majornelson.com and www.gamerscoreblog.com quickly inform fans about upcoming Xbox 360 events and even handle damage control when things go wrong (such as when the download slowdowns happened when the movie and TV downloads occurred). Sony and Nintendo haven't come close to giving their gaming communities that kind of treatment, never mind setting up an equivalent network.
However that doesn't mean Microsoft and the Xbox 360 are without weakness. Much has been made about some Xbox 360 owners going through multiple units due to hardware failure, which may be the primary reason Microsoft recently changed its warranty for the console from 90 days to one full year. The proprietary 20 GB hard drive is another issue; it's just too small, especially for hardcore users who would like to be able to download the entire first two seasons of Babylon 5 and keep it on one disk.