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LONG BLOG

Why Microsoft Won't Slim the 360

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The Xbox 360 has been out for quite some time and with Sony having finally released a slimmed down version of their titan-sized Playstation 3, it was only a matter of time before critics began to wonder if Microsoft would do the same. The 360 launched in the United States, Mexico and Canada on November 22, 2005 and less than a month later in Europe and Japan. Ultimately, the console would see launch in over 36 countries worldwide. The first iteration of the 360 came in two flavors, core and premium, which would eventually be replaced by the arcade and elite editions. Microsoft wanted to give their potential users choice and while options could be obtained at a certain premium, it wasn’t long before the price dropped. The premium package, initially released at $399 was the top tier price; however the current elite edition may very well soon see a price drop to $299, if not lower. Despite hardware issues, it is easily visible how there are now over 30 million consoles in the hands of gamers worldwide.

So, why not introduce a slim 360?

After all, it would be nice to have the same power in a smaller package. Really, who wouldn’t want a slim 360? A smaller memory unit could easily be attached and the whole body could be streamlined allowing for owners who have a premium in regards to space could easily be comfortably owning an Xbox 360 that is half the size of its current incarnation.

Except there is a problem with the fact that there are over 30 million consoles in the wild right now, nestled in entertainment centers, shelves and standing proudly on desks ready to be played at a moments notice. With so many consoles out, and Microsoft having fazed out the pro edition of the console in favor of the arcade and elite, why would they invest in technology to slim down a console that is still selling? The Elite, which was once the highest end 360 to come into existence has since become the standard. By doing this, Microsoft has essentially told new customers that by adopting into the gaming experience that they have to offer, gamers will get the best product they have to offer for a minimal one-time premium. Combine that with the fact that there are currently 478 backwards compatible Xbox titles, including classics like Halo, Black, Knights of the Old Republic, Phantom Crash and Psychonauts among the already huge library of Xbox 360 and Xbox Live Arcade titles and that’s enough to keep anyone filling there Gamerscore forever.

Simply said, when you have a good piece of hardware that works it becomes easier to focus on what makes that equipment great and that’s the software and network infrastructure. Daunting flagship franchises such as Halo, Gears of War, Mass Effect, and Fable have all been able to move systems. Microsoft is at its very heart a software company. They’ve been writing it since before many of the current Xbox 360 players, including myself, were born. As a business, they know what they’re doing via the focus they have place on the competitive price cuts to keep them on the cutting edge and stay just a step ahead of their competitors in certain areas of the industry. Thus at the end of the day, what a slim 360 becomes is an answer to a question Microsoft doesn’t especially need to be answering right now.

This piece was originally written for PlanetXbox360.com where you can read other jumbles of words that may seem coherent and possibly written by me.
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About AndrewG009one of us since 1:33 PM on 07.28.2009

"I kind of miss the days when games were judged on their game-playing merit alone. I'm a little concerned about how far we (the game industry) are into the licensed four-page-ad marketing blitz era these days, which may be a natural evolution of the industry. But I'm always worried when we put more emphasis on glitz and production values than on the game. That's a trend that looks good for a while until you realize there's no game industry any more. If we don't have gameplay, we can't really compete with other forms of entertainment because we can't do graphics as good as the movie industry and we can't make sounds as well as the recording industry. All we can do that's special to us is be interactive. So we have to hang on to that and make sure we do a good job." - Sid Meier


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