Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
28 November 2005
The Xbox 360 Verdict: Sony's Screwed
Ok, maybe that's not quite what Christian Svensson meant in his Next Generation story, but that's what I took away from it. Even to a hard-hearted curmudgeon like me, he makes the system sound attractive. Here are the details that add up to "Sony's screwed".

On the games:
Despite these [launch day] games only being competent executions of established gameplay, there are glimpses of brilliance in how these games interface online, even with single player content.
Let's face facts: Sony's PlayStation 2 launch day was dreadful. Even if the Xbox 360 comes off as "merely competent" this time around, they may be ahead of PlayStation 3 come Fall 2006. Sony needs a game as good looking and exciting as what we've all seen in the Metal Gear Solid 4 and Killzone 2 trailers. If they can't deliver that, the Xbox 360 will be eating the PlayStation 3's lunch, especially with Halo 3 leading the second-generation game attack.

On the network:
Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on the creation and evolution of Xbox Live. It is now prepared to monetize that investment in infrastructure and user base with Xbox 360.
This Sony vs. Microsoft reminds me of Netscape vs. Internet Explorer: Microsoft waded into the fray and innovated right past the established standard. Whether they innovated or cheated or what have you isn't the point. They made a better mousetrap.

Sony should already have a plan for implementing a common network interface across all their games and systems (PS2, PSP, PS3), and use their market position to force it right down every developer's throat. If the roles were reversed, and next year they may well be, you can bet Microsoft wouldn't be shy about pushing their advantage to keep second place well behind.

Here's the real danger: If Xbox Live becomes the gold standard for online gaming, you can bet that the developers will cling to it and sell everyone else's solution short. (Just ask GNU/Linux users why SDL/OpenGL/OpenAL isn't getting any traction.) Giving Microsoft even that thin wedge between developers and the Sony systems could be fatal.

And if the players start buying stuff online, all those extra blades that Microsoft sells will make up for the loss they're taking on every razor.

On features:
If Nintendo's Revolution has its controller and PS3 has Blu-ray as their keystone innovations, then Xbox 360 has this iteration of Xbox Live as its worthy response.
If I were an Xbox devotee, I'd almost be angry at that wording. Xbox Live, the best online system for gaming ever seen, which came out before the Nintendo Revoluion and Sony PlayStation 3, is a worthy response to a ridiculous controller and a proprietary media format? What the heck?!

Trust me, if Sony's biggest selling point is Blu-Ray compatibility, I'm skipping the PlayStation 3. And so will everyone else.

On usability:
Connecting my wireless bridge to the Ethernet port was all it took to get my machine online. Converting my old Xbox Live account took seconds. Navigating through the blades through all of the various options takes only a few minutes to figure out. Even my wife, who doesn't touch games figured out how to fire up the system and get our pictures on the television without my input.
Sony's online games still require you to click "Ok" on the End User License Agreement every time you play. My wife sill can't figure out how to make the PlayStation 2 work as a DVD player consistently. The PSX media box was a complete failure. These missteps make me doubt Sony's ability to put together anything half as easy as what Microsoft has managed.

Look, I'm not saying the Xbox 360 is ready to take over the world. Frankly, it's still a big yawner for me. But the bar for Sony just got a lot higher, and there is no indication that they even realize they've got to jump.

Labels: , , ,

--Matt Matthews at 19:19
Comment [ 1 ]

Comments on this post:

"Just ask GNU/Linux users why SDL/OpenGL/OpenAL isn't getting any traction"

You mean Mac and Linux users, I believe. And what with that cvs-style system that was made to create earlier (it's out now, right?) versions of Linux, I don't know that GNU is appropriate either.

Wonder what the Hurd gaming APIs are?

By Blogger rufbo, at 29 November, 2005 19:27  

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