Xbox 360 hits 55 million units
The interesting trends I'm seeing here: the Wii, as we know, has flamed out, but the PS3 appears to have flattened over the last year. Why? Well, I'd actually read that more as a combination of the Xbox's growth (especially in overseas markets) and Kinect's supercharged 2010 holiday season; Microsoft has done a solid job of eating into Sony's own share of growth post-Wii, making the Xbox's acceleration curve look even more dramatic compared to the others. (This graph is annualized, so it's probably not greatly influenced by the PSN outages -- yet.)
It's been super interesting to watch Xbox grow from the "yeah, right" underdog in the early oughts console generation to the dominant force in console gaming in this generation.
Followup, an interesting quote sent to me from a Microsoft rep: "Microsoft has now sold 55 million Xbox 360 consoles across 38 countries and sales are accelerating. Xbox 360 maintains its lead in the US as the top selling console in 2011, and ten of the past eleven months. In the first four months of 2011, Xbox 360 has seen a 29 percent year over year increase in sales, which is more than triple the growth of PlayStation 3 and the largest growth of any console on the market."
The problem is less with Media Center being a good product, and more that MSFT envisioned this Media Center ecosystem that never panned out (partially because having a full PC with tuners running your home theater is a highly expensive and complicated proposition). Nowadays I think the 360 is the only MC Extender left on the market.
So the actual MCE aspect of the 360? Awesome. The future of MCE? Not doing so hot these days.
For me the answer is exceedingly easy: an Xbox 360.
Maybe I am giving Microsoft too much credit, but right now TVs are not ready for the internet and MSFT is better for offering services that involve the internet (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) but not the actual internet. Let's keep the internet on our PCs and tablets, but bring it to the Xbox when a TV based browser is functionally usable.
I have a PS3 as well, but I skipped over the Wii due to a complete lack of compelling games. Rather, not a complete lack, but enough of a lack to undermine the merit of purchasing a console. I like my PS3, but the ONLY games I buy for it are system exclusives. The only reason I bought it was because they dropped the price, combined with the accumulation of enough compelling exclusives, and the blu-ray player built in.
Which brings me back to the Xbox 360. I probably have purchased 10 times the number of games for the 360 vs. the PS3. So why, given the breadth of multi platform releases available, do I stick to the 360? Easy answer: X-box Live.
Live has become a powerhouse of a service over its lifetime. I can still remember the novelty of downloadable content, and a friend's list (novel at least for consoles), etc. What it has grown into, is a compelling media market that integrates the services that people use. Between Netflix, Hulu, and ESPN, there's quite a bit to do on the X-box besides just play games.
It's no wonder they sell so many consoles.
But the big picture of the 360 has always been even more interesting: As much as Nintendo and Sony were trying- or more accurately (in Sony's case)- struggling to live out their potential and evolution as gaming systems, Microsoft has taken a rather amorphous stance with the 360. During the console's infancy it was indeed all about trying to get the best games and core experiences on the Xbox relative to the PS3, but with the subsequent NXE and its associated integration (Avatar build-ons, Marketplace(s), XBLM and Indie Games) you see the rapid shift to not just software in terms of game titles, but software on the console itself being slick and understated, that MS is trying to breed a certain trust into the 360 services ecosystem: safety, integration, accessibility, quality of content, akin to what you see with the iOS (app) ecosystem and its subsequent lock-in. (in contrast, I don't see this in the PS Store/Media experiences!)
And that somehow does matter: in the PS2 days it was blockbuster titles that drove console sales on the months of their launches: Gran Turismo, Final Fantasy, God Of War... these exclusive titles still do help the PS3, but no longer in such a magnitude.
That being said, would you say that MS needs to come out with a new console any time soon? The Xbox 360 is getting old in age, but supports HD gaming and now has gotten MS' choice of motion gaming. It's still a great choice for a purchase.
Nintendo looks to be changing the game again with the Wii HD, if the rumors of the controllers are anything to go by. What do you think would be an appropriate strategy for Microsoft and Sony right now?
I will say that I'm glad that Microsoft has fixed the Xbox 360's hardware problems and that they deserve there strong second. Hope to find a compelling Kinnect game sometime this year.
Nintendo has done an amazing job of selling consoles this generation, they've done the worst at attach rates and ARPU, so it's wound up being something of a pyrrhic (and short-lived) victory. We can debate the merits and drawbacks of their ecosystem, but you cannot debate the fact that they are no longer the front-runner.
I'll put it in other terms. if one had to step in to fill the roles of either Don Mattrick, Kaz Hirai, or Satoru Iwata, well, I'd choose those roles in the order above. Digging Nintendo out of the hole they've found themselves in after the last couple of years is not going to be fun.
My hope for the Wii U lies as much in the more standard button layout on the controller than the touchscreen on it. Call of Duty could come to Wii with a similar control scheme as the other consoles and barely use the screen. But then to differentiate itself the screen could be used for something... not the radar, that belongs on screen.
Basically, HD and a somewhat standard control layout means the same core games can come to Wii U and use the screen/motion control to differentiate itself from the other versions.
Wii has experienced a decline since last year, but that's to be expected from a system that everyone and their mom purchased: there's really nowhere to go but down.
(And these are just the sales for this hemisphere, worldwide the picture is a little different but still comes out in Nintendo's favor.)
At the end of the day, if I'm looking to relax and enjoy some gaming, I know I'd pick a regular controller with some decent, visually-appealing games over the Wii on most days. Most. :)
You'll see that Xbox 360 has 10+million more than the PS3, while Wii tops the Xbox by 10 million.
I doubt I'll even consider a Wii U until it has proven itself for a year or two, especially if the yet-to-be-announced online system is not significantly better than friend codes (read: Xbox Live clone)
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