It is no secret that the history of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 is plagued by its association with an unfortunately high failure rate leading to the now infamous RRoD, more often than not due to an overheating fault across the early models that hit the market from launch. This has an incredibly large quantity of consoles, so much so that I’m sure the majority of those reading this will know at least one friend that has been affected.
Microsoft have actively sought to rectify the problem with minor refinements to the newer model consoles, including the most recently released Xbox 360 Elite SKU, however the RRoD issue still remains to be a constant worry to many Xbox 360 owners. However, even more importantly from my own experiences with chatting to friends I know that it holds back those from even purchasing a console.
This therefore begs the question, why haven’t Microsoft released an entirely new redesign of the Xbox 360 model?
However around the same time as the BBC Watchdog programme was released, Sony had revealed and were preparing to release the Playstation 3 Slim model. Whilst the initial reaction to its announcement was incredibly mixed, the redesign of both the logo and console has led to a revived interest in the console since its release back in September 2009. Some dismissed the new Slim model , but the sales have continually increased over the end of 2009 and into 2010 – so much so that it has been reported that Sony are quickly catching up to their rivals, Microsoft, in console sales.
The effect of the console redesign on sales is undeniable, and Microsoft are in a position where there are enough options to encourage a new model of the Xbox 360. I’m sure there are many consumers, both that either own an Xbox 360 or have yet to purchase one, that would welcome a console with integrated wifi, HDD, was smaller in size and ran much quieter to the current model. Whilst Microsoft’s strategy has been to sell such hardware separately to the console, these will still be purchased by those picking up any of the previous three SKU’s so they wouldn’t be losing too much in the way of profit – one would hope at least.
The price point of both consoles is also remarkably close now, with the Xbox 360 Elite pricing around £180-200 at retailers, with the PS3 Slim at £200-250. Alongside this, the older SKU’s are available for cheaper meaning that more gamers are setting their sights on perhaps taking their first steps in entering the next generation. Such considerations for a redesign also come at a time when the market doesn’t really seem to be pointing in the direction of the next Xbox or PlayStation console coming out anytime soon. Such longer console life cycles that we are currently seeing have seen Microsoft place renewed energy behind successfully launching Natal this year – something that they are clearly on track to do, despite mixed opinions on its necessity. This would provide ample opportunity for the new hardware to be released, and bundled, alongside a potential new redesigned console – maybe this is the right time for something to happen?
For those that have read this far and are preparing to bash my discussion as being that of a PlayStation 3 owner, I actually spend every ounce of my gaming time on my Xbox 360 lately – although I do have both consoles.
With 2010 seeing a remarkably strong software line-up for Microsoft’s console, the release of Natal and a return of X10, maybe we can hope to see them unveil something this year, I know that I would be first in line to buy one.