With a year-long lead in the next-gen gaming race, the very popular Xbox Live online service to play games against others and access a range on online content in over 24 countries, a wide selection of games and plenty more on the way, and excellent ‘Media Centre’ capabilities, especially when coupled with a Media Centre or Vista Home Premium (or better) PC, things are clearly looking up for the Xbox.
Where Microsoft once had only a few games to its name, including the venerable Microsoft Flight Simulator, the Xbox 360 shows just how far Microsoft have come in the quest to dominate console and online gaming.
Of course, Sony are not resting on their laurels: the PS3 will launch in Japan on November 11, in the US on November 17, and in Europe, Australia and other countries in March 2007.
Recent reports have talked up the graphical capabilities as being even better than the Xbox 360, and with consoles to go on sale in just two or three weeks, we’ll soon be able to see for ourselves, although here in Australia we’ll have to make do with screenshots, video recordings, public demonstrations or friends who have bought one from the US!
Nintendo’s Wii is nearly here too, landing on December 7th in Australia. We’ve already reported on the Wii’s excellent control system that is so intriguing, you’re sure to want to try it yourself when you see it in stores.
But it’s the Xbox 360 that has been here for nearly a year in total (taking into account the original US launch time frame of November last year) that has made high-definition gaming a ‘now-gen’ experience.
The games being released now should also be after months or even years of programming experience with this console. This often means that better performance is extracted from the console as programmers become ever more familiar programming for it.
The Australian sales figures are based on research from GfK, a supplier of market data for the interactive entertainment sector, offering local and global data. Their Senior Accout Manager, Daniel Morse, said that “Our figures show that Xbox 360 has been the fastest ever console [excluding hand-held consoles] to sell 100,000 units in Australia, reaching that mark in just seven months. And in its first seven months Xbox 360 has sold 400,000 games, significantly more games than any other console in Australia in its first seven months.”
Regional director Xbox Australia and New Zealand, David McLean added that, “Xbox 360 has taken off in Australia demonstrating that the game has changed and consumers are ready for the next-generation of gaming now. Xbox 360 provides amazing value for the whole family and with the biggest line-up of next-generation games and accessories, we are confident that there will be lots of Xbox 360s sitting under Christmas trees this year.”
According to Microsoft, the Xbox 360 has not only performed extremely well, but has proven a terrific platform for third-party games publishers. The top selling games for the system to date include Elder Scrolls: Oblivion (Take 2 Interactive), Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter (Ubisoft), Call of Duty 2 (Activision) and Saints Row (THQ), with other third-party publishers wanting to create games for the growing console user base as well.
Retailers are also reporting strong sales for Xbox 360 and are looking forward to a busy Christmas.
“Sales of Xbox 360 have been very strong for us and we are expecting this sales momentum to continue through Christmas,” said John Slack-Smith, Chief Operating Officer, Harvey Norman.
Microsoft tells us that “The new figures demonstrate that in its first seven months Xbox 360 has outperformed the PS2 in its first seven months in both hardware and software sales. Xbox 360 sold 100,000 console units in that period, compared to just 78,000 for PS2”.
They continue that “In terms of software, the margin is even wider; over 400,000 games have now been sold for Xbox 360, while only 190,000 games were sold for PS2 in the same period following launch”.
That, however, does not take into account the number of PS2 games being sold today. We don’t have the figures, but with a massive installed user base in Australia, and with the PS2 at only AUD $188, many PS2s will also be sold this Christmas, along with much PS2 software. Then there's the Nintendo Wii, the Sony PSP, the DS Lite and Windows XP computers that run a vast library of games titles themselves, all of which will also be selling well.
There’s never been more gaming and entertainment devices than ever. It’s a wonder kids or anyone else can utter the words... “I’m bored!” with so many choices, from the real world outside, books, DVDs, the Internet and every permutation of games and gaming console you could possibly want.
Whichever way you go, it’s going to be the most digital, gaming and entertainment focused Christmas ever. Enjoy!