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Is the Xbox's retail future troubled?

Ross Miller

Vivendi Europe VP Adam Roberts, in an interview with told the site that the "Xbox probably needs help at the moment." Roberts feels that retailers are looking to clear off shelf space, and the original Xbox will be a prime target for removal. He emphasizes that Microsoft should focus on publishing fewer, although higher-quality, titles for its fading console. In his words, "It's not just the responsibility of the retailer... It's a partnership between the publisher, Microsoft and the retailer, not any one of those in isolation."

Roberts used Sony's PlayStation, which has only recently gone out of production, as an example of a consoles who enjoyed a long life after its replacement was launched. Both the PlayStation 2 and GameCube are expected to see some high-profile releases this year, with God of War 2 and Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, respectively, coming out around the time of their next-generation offerings. How can Microsoft retain interest in its original Xbox?

There are two points to be made here. First off, Microsoft may be intentionally letting its original Xbox console go, following a scorched earth policy. We reported last month that the Xbox had actually gone up in price since the launch of the 360, probably as a way to either coerce consumers into next-generation purchases or to cut their losses on a product they view as antiquated. The Xbox did well, but not great, and Microsoft may be trying to put its failures learning experiences behind them and move on with a clean slate.

Our second mentionable point involves Vivendi's stance on "fewer titles with bigger budgets, and ultimately higher potential." While we applaud Vivendi for focusing on higher-quality products--as a publisher of Blizzard titles (World of Warcraft), they have learned to reap the benefits of quality titles--we should note that a big budget does not always equate to a higher-quality game. Katamari Damacy is the now-classic example of a low-budget title that skyrocketed to stardom (and financial success), while there are a number of projects that had large budgets but abysmal sales and reviews...Daikatana? Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness? The list goes on and on.

At this point in a console's cycle, would you consider purchasing an Xbox to catch up on the choice titles of this generation? What about a PlayStation 2 or GameCube?

[Update: fixed typo]

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