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Monday, January 09, 2006

XBox 360 Launch a Dud?

It's always hard to gauge a launch of new consumer product as large as the 360, but let's be honest ... there isn't a lot of good news for Redmond here. One used to say that at least it sold well, but now the Financial Times is reporting that the 360 won't even meet sales estimates. That report continues to say that gamers will be experiencing shortages through at least this month.

So let's tally the score card here:

  • Lower than expected sales
  • Continued lack of supply
  • Persistent rumors of overheating and crashing
  • Disc scratching prevalent enough to force GameFly to institute protective policies
  • Non-HD performance rumored substandard

    That's not exactly a rocket ship to the moon in terms of a new product, particularly one that is supposedly going to start making Microsoft some cash as opposed to just being a tax write-off. Recently, Microsoft announced an external HD-DVD drive for the 360 ... a plan previously suspected but until recently denied by the old MS. Depending on how all the pricing works out, this might make for an interesting twist when Sony finally makes it to the stage, but all of this rolled together really begs the question of whether Microsoft simply jumped the gun here or not. If so, the comparisons to Sega's DreamCast might be more worthy than previously thought.

    If Nintendo manages a Spring 2006 launch, this might play well into their hands. Consumers unwilling to gamble $400+ on a potential dud will be far more willing to pick up a sub $200 machine with, while less bells and whistles, also a lot less troubles. Mumblevine has it that Sony won't be putting anything on the shelves until next Christmas, at the earliest, though ... so Microsoft has plenty of time to fix any hardware issues, get some better titles in the library and hopefully make the external HD-DVD an attractive alternative to the PlayStation 3's built-iin Blu-Ray.

    If not, Microsoft's vaunted expirement might not have the pay-off Redmond wants.

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    lordxixor101 said...

    I think calling the launch a dud is a little harsh. Even if it doesn't meet sales expectations, the one thing that MS got with there 05 launch was being the hottest Christmas gift of the year. Everyone wanted one.

    Secondly is the fallacy that launching first is a huge advantage. The SNES launched third, after the TurboGraphix 16 and the Sega Genesis, if I remember correctly. Yet, they were the biggest seller. Everyone points to the Playstation vs the N64, but remember, the Saturn launched first. Again, this generation, the Dreamcast was the first out the door. The "next generation" starts when the biggest player shows up.

    I'm not sure, I don't own the 360 yet, and I still feel we are in the PS2/Xbox/Gamecube era, it doesn't feel like the next generation has begun. Maybe after Oblivion launches that will change.

    Josh said...

    Dud might be a little overkill, true, we aren't exactly talking the N-Gage here of flops.

    However, I'm not even sure everyone wanted one. I don't personally know anyone who has one and only two co-workers mentioned they had thought of getting one. None of my hardcore gamer friends have considered it yet. These days it seems like the "hottest" gift is determined by the stores, not the consumer. I think if the 360 was as hot as advertised, MS would have made their sales numbers.

    Josh said...

    Microsoft apparently has announced that the HD-DVD will only be for movies.

    While that will at least mean that their library won't be as badly segregated as some theorized, it seems to really limit the console in the long run.