Next Gen Systems Part 1: Xbox 360

A lot has gone on in the past month that I haven’t had the time to write, specifically the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) and the unveiling of the next generation systems. Over the next week or so I’ll go into my thoughts about each system then summarize my feelings on how the next console war will shape up.

Since it was the first system to be unveiled via an MTV Special almost a week before E3 took place, I’ll discuss the XBOX 360 today. First, Microsoft’s decision to have a half-hour special on MTV in an attempt to appeal to a younger audience only partially worked. Although the main demographic for MTV is primarily comprised of 18 to 25 year old males, that is a narrow portion of people that would be interested in the system. Why not have this special on a channel that gamers actually watch like Spike TV or here’s a thought, G4.

The second issue that I had with the special is that it wasn’t geared towards people like me. It didn’t give the hard specs about the system that I wanted to know (i.e. what type of chipsets it was using, the amount of memory, information throughput, etc). Instead it was a show geared towards those people who would buy the system just because a famous person played it for five minutes and said it was neat.

All that aside, Microsoft does seem to be taking this console thing much more seriously the second time around. Originally Microsoft had no expectations that the XBOX would sell as well as it did. Currently they’re second of the big three in terms of unit sales and inching in on Sony’s territory ever to slowly. Now it seems that Microsoft has realized that they could possibly overtake Sony in the next generation of console which is why I think we’re seeing this big media blitz.

When taking a look at the system specs of the XBOX 360, you can see that Microsoft is not only attempting to build a fast game machine, but also integrate its system into other forms of entertainment such as DVD, mp3, CD, etc. The 360 will also be the first system to come with wireless controllers and the ability for wireless network connection which is gaining more popularity. The system will also support 720p and 1080i high definition televisions, so all of those people that purchased a plasma screen will now be able to play every game in high-def glory.

One of the current XBOX’s features is its Live service which allows players to compete with each other all around the world. This service is being expanded with the 360 to include such things as gamer profiles, rankings, and downloadable content such as music, movies and demos. Microsoft has also promised that every game released for the 360 will utilize XBOX Live in some way.

What may turn some gamers off to the XBOX 360 is that as of now it will not be backwards compatible with all XBOX games. In other words, unlike PlayStation 2 where all PlayStation 1 games were able to be played on the new system, not all original XBOX games can be played on the 360. If this holds true to launch, the library of XBOX 360 games will be severely limited.

In addition to a possibly limited library, it’s important to point out that Microsoft will stop purchasing NVidia processors in early August. Since NVidia supplies the chips used in the current XBOX, after August Microsoft will only be able to produce as many XBOXes as they have chips stored in the warehouse. If Microsoft does not make the 360 100% backwards compatible, this could lead to revenue loss due to the fact that retailers tend to limit the amount of games for sale for systems that can no longer be purchased.

In all, Microsoft seems to have a solid system. What will determine its success however will be its launch titles. So far none of the announced XBOX 360 games have gotten me that excited to purchase the system (except for Perfect Dark Zero perhaps). Although Bill Gates did announce that Halo 3 will ship the day that the PS3 is released, the fate of the 360 between release and then is in question.

About the Author

Having over 25 years of gaming experience, Zach knows a thing or two when it comes to one of his favorite entertainment activities. Additionally, he has also written many articles previewing and reviewing titles which can be found in various places around the net, including VGBlogger.com.