Industrial Gaming 02 | The Core of the Problem

By Barry Lewis 01.12.2005

The Core of the Problem
Barry Lewis :: 1st December 2005 :: Issue 2

In a few hours time Microsoft will launch the Xbox 360 throughout European regions. The first Xbox, despite an extremely poor start, has since gone from strength to strength and has now sold around 6 Million units. This is a far cry from systems like the Game Boy Advance or Playstation 2 platforms, which have easily surpassed several times that figure, and unlike the aforementioned systems the Xbox did not exactly pull a profit. In the last round the fight for market share was extremely beneficial for the consumers, boasting early price cuts, but with focus now shifting toward profit things aren't looking so good.

When Microsoft first announced the dual-pricing structure for the Xbox 360 several high profile developers, analysts and media workers all put forward their opinions. These ranged vastly from respect and congratulations to disgust and claims of it being a PR stunt (reads: bragging rights against Sony). Personally speaking, and for years, I have been calling for a dual-priced structuring, a cheaper package with all you need for gaming and a more expensive system with media functions. This was quite a large problem with the Playstation 2, indeed you did not have a choice in buying a DVD player with the console, even if you already had a dedicated player. To somewhat justified criticism Nintendo launched the GameCube with no DVD playback, but the next home console shows exactly how media should be offered. The Revolution will provide everything that it needs and promises for gaming right out of the box, and if you desire media functions in the form of DVD playback you buy an add-on thus paying the DVD Company royalties for said service. With in-built Flash Memory Nintendo will offer each and every gaming philosophy they have promised (barring the traditional controller shell, we don't know if that is in the box yet), with the aforementioned 512MB of Flash Memory to support the Virtual Console concept in regards to downloadable retro games.

At this stage you might be thinking that I respect the cheap and cheerful adoption service offered by Microsoft, and lacking a Family Fortunes buzzer all I can say is no, not really. In fact for most involved in the Core system uptake, within the next few weeks anyway, it isn't going to be a cheap and cheerful process. Reports are surfacing that the 360 is in very short supply for tonight's launch, some suggestions are even being made that no more than a handful of stock is reaching some of the biggest chains in the UK. In the last few years I have personally attended midnight openings at Game in Dundee; the queues for the Wind Waker launch were massive, and even on a miserable March midnight opening literally hundreds of people showed, salivating away, to be among the first European DS owners. The simple fact here is that there isn't enough stock for Microsoft to fill a normal launch, let alone one a few weeks prior to Christmas.

One of my biggest concerns is that every single early adopter knows the 360 is not worth having if it doesn't include the Hard Disk Drive (HDD). You see, owning a 360 without the HDD is much like buying a sports car without an alternator. It will look good, drive even better, but very soon you'll run out of juice and be buying an essential component that costs a great deal of money. With shortages guaranteed the Premium bundles will be gone in seconds, what this leaves is a plethora of fans, all desperate to join in the fun, having to buy the Core package and then buy the HDD separately. These fans are left with no choice but to buy the HDD, thus spending the exact same amount as they would with the Premium bundle, but not getting all the extra bits and bobs like a wireless controller (

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