From the recent D:Dive Into Media event, the senior vice-president of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business said that the Xbox 360 has been transformed from a gaming console to an entertainment console, and that Sony’s PlayStation 3 isn’t as good of an entertainment console as the 360.
Here at Gamer-Rider.com, we’ve always strived to keep a balanced approach when it comes time to criticize any of the Big 3. I’m of the belief that there are always 2 or more sides to an opinion, but only 1 side to a fact. For example, some people think that a tomato is the best thing ever and others may disagree, two different yet valid opinions of the tomato. But they must both agree at the fact that the tomato is a fruit (contrary to popular beliefs) and not a vegetable, regardless of their opinions. So with this in mind, we set off to try to explain why Microsoft is statistically wrong, and that’s regardless of opinions and perceptions.
The Sales Angle
Now that’s not something that I’m going to spend a lot of time on as it is pretty clean-cut obvious. In terms of sales, the Wii came storming out of the gates, followed by the PS3 and the Xbox 360, which has been the slowest selling console of this generation worldwide. I mean sure, you can go ahead and break it down into regions if you want to, but that doesn’t change the fact mentioned above. What makes this more worrisome for Microsoft is the fact that the most expensive console of all time (so far at least), outpaced them during the worst recession since the Great Depression. Now this doesn’t mean that the Xbox 360 is not a success, far from it actually. What it does suggest is that there’s a lot of work to be done, seeing as it is a product that is not selling as well as the competition, even when it has always been cheaper than the competition.
As gamers, we have very different tastes when it comes to what games we like and play. If you think about it, there are very few titles which managed to sell to more than 15% of a console’s user base. Combine the sales of Halo 4 and Call of Duty Black Ops 2 on the Xbox 360, and you still have over 50 million gamers who ignored both titles and are looking for a different experience. Please notice that those gamers make up the majority of the user base. Point being made here is that we are a very varied group, and this is where quality and quantity come in. The Wii never really had much in the way of third-party support, meaning that it heavily relied on first party. The Xbox 360 doesn’t have much support from first party studios (due to a lack of them) and heavily relies on third-party (multi platform games). The PS3 is the best balance between first and third parties, offering the most exclusive first party games, as well as almost all the third-party games found on both the Xbox 360 and the Wii.
Let’s gets this out-of-the-way and say that the Wii is not even competing in this category, so we’ll focus on the Xbox 360 and the PS3. I remember when the ps3 was being mocked for its Blu Ray capability, its built-in wifi, HDMI ports, web browser and countless other features. Yet the Xbox 360 (which looked like an octopus or a starfish with all the add-ons such as HD-DVD, wifi adapter, cooling fan, etc) was being held as the true gaming console because it had more games. But that was 2007 and that’s all water under the bridge. It is now 2013 and it’s all about “entertainment” as said by Yusuf (Senior vice-president at Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business). I don’t find anything wrong with Microsoft’s hypocrisy when boasting “entertainment values” now that they’ve finally revised the system to be on par with what the PS3’s been doing since 2006. What I take issue with is them going as far as saying that everyone knows that the Xbox 360 is a better entertainment system, when even Netflix themselves came out and said that the PS3 is the number 1 device in the world that people use to stream contents to their TVs.
Other things to take into consideration is that the Xbox 360 cannot play Blu-ray; it also can’t play 7.1 uncompressed audio like the PS3 can. But the biggest barrier that an xbox 360 owner faces is the fact that they have to shell out $60.00 a year to get access to simple stuff like YouTube, the web browser that was recently added, and even Netflix which the consumer already pays $8/month for. In other words, a customer has to pay Microsoft in order to access the contents they’ve already paid for. So pay us, so we can let you use your internet connection, and play games that you’ve already paid for.
The other thing that cuts into the argument is the fact that both the PS3 and Xbox 360 are gaming consoles, with their primary target audience being gamers. Now I don’t want to speak for all gamers when I say this, but I believe that nothing is more “entertaining” to a gamer than actual games. So yes being able to watch Netflix on the PS3 or Xbox 360 is nice, but 95% of the time I turn on my PS3, I do so to play games, and not for Facebook or Twitter etc.
I really dislike feeding into rumors, but I’ll take the bait anyways since Yusuf Mehdi himself said the Xbox 360 is changing from being a gaming console, to an “entertainment console,” something synonymous with Sony and the PlayStation brand. The rumors are that the next Xbox will be heavily influenced by apps and non-gaming related things, and that’s all good because I’m sure there’s a market for it. But for a bit of perspective, Sony and the PlayStation brand did something similar, but they did so in an era when Smart TVs, Smart Phones, and Tablets and many other gadgets simply didn’t exist. Nowadays, we have TVs with built-in wifi receivers that can stream Netflix, check out Facebook, Twitter, etc. In my opinion, I think there exists the danger of very quickly becoming irrelevant when you alienate your core audience by focusing on offering things that are more easily accessible elsewhere.
In the time it has taken Microsoft to sell 76 million Xbox 360s, Sony has sold 77 million PS3s (unofficial numbers), 80 million PS2s, 80 million PSPs, and some 5 million PS Vitas so far. That’s over 240 millions consoles combined as opposed to only 76 million Xbox 360s in a 7-8 year time span. I believe that the plethora of games Sony pumps out is the main reason why they keep going from one success to the next.
I can’t believe that soon, companies will have to pay money to have studies conducted to confirm that “gamers” want “games” from their game consoles. Wait…come to think of it, there might already be an app for that.