I decided not to blog about this until the dust had settled, and maybe someone had shed light on why the decisions were made. No one really has, but it’ll have to do for now.
You might have heard that Microsoft have finally officially announced the pricing of the Xbox 360.
For a very reasonable £279 you get the ‘360 Pack’ which includes:
- The Xbox 360 (with ‘chrome’ trim woo hoo!)
- 20Gb detachable HD
- Wireless Controller
- Headset (for playing and talking online)
- Composite cables to plug into most TVs (quite controversial this)
- Silver membership to Xbox Live
- And for a limited time there is a free remote control
To be honest this is better than I had ever hoped for. If this had been the only announcement I would have been convinced that MS were going to be a huge force in this next generation of consoles.
Unfortunately there was more to the announcement…
There is also going to be the ‘Core Pack’ for £209. This comes with:
- The (plain white) Xbox 360
- A WIRED controller
- Some crappier cables
Now some of you might be thinking, “hmm, well that seems very reasonable”. And you’d be sort of right. It is reasonable. It’s also Microsoft’s first HUGE mistake in the run up to the launch of the 360.
To me the two tiered approach seems to have been a decision taken by the bean counters at fairly late stage in the development of the 360 platform. It seems as though, from a marketing point of view, they absolutely HAD to have a console released at the magic $299 level in the US.
And in order to do this they had to strip out pretty much everything but the absolute bear essentials. Unfortunately this didn’t extend to the ‘standard’ HD and the wireless controller.
Now some of you might be wondering why this is such a bad thing. And I do believe it is a very BAD thing. You see, the fact there are going to be potentially millions of 360’s knocking about without HD’s means that game developers can never rely on one being present, which in turn means they can’t develop a game that relies on it. Which, in turn will probably mean it is never used to it’s full potential.
A HD brings a different level of possibilities to your average console. The best of which is the fact that the developers can stream content from a DVD into a cache on the HD, this means data can be transferred something like 3 times faster – which means bigger levels, faster loading times and more seamless gameplay.
Then there is the fact of downloadable content. The Live system is being increased even further for the 360, with extra downloadable content expected to be a massive growth area. In fact one of the things market men developers are excited about is ‘Micro-Payments’
This is where you can buy extra pieces of they game for a very small fee. So for instance you buy a new Halo 3 map for £1. Or in a MMORPG you buy that shiny new battle axe for 25p etc etc.
Apparently it will be possible to go on Live without a hard drive and store everything on the 360’s new 64Mb memory card. Yes a whole 64Mb! Having that little storage space is surely going to severly hamper how much people pump into this sort of venture?
However, my biggest problem with this announcement is that by removing such an important ‘standard’ part of the console you are moving away from the very essence of a console. Which is a STANDARD mass produced unit, that developers know EXACTLY what is in the box, and how it will react. If you take away a piece of equipment you start doubling the work that needs to be done, especially in testing.
It starts to become a PC.
MS have apparently said they are looking to sell something like one ‘Core Pack’ to every four or five ‘360 Packs’, and if you look more closely at the pricing structure it’s almost as if MS don’t want you to buy the ‘Core Pack’.
Here’s the list of accessories that have been announced so far:
- Faceplates – £14.99
- Controller (wired) – £24.99
- Component HD-AV Cable – £19.99
- Hard Drive (20GB) – £69.99
- Memory Unit (64MB) – £22.99
- Wireless Controller – £32.99
- Play & Charge Kit (for recharging Wireless Controller while playing) – £14.99
- Rechargeable battery pack – £9.99
- Wireless Networking Adapter – £59.99 (?????!!!!!!!!)
- Headset – £14.99
- Universal Media Remote – £19.99
- SCART AV Cable – £17.99
- VGA HD-AV Cable – £19.99
So you buy the ‘Core Pack’ then immediately you have to fork out £22.99 for at least a memory card – so £209.99 + £22.99 = £232.99…
Or if you’re incredibly stupid it’s £69.99 for the 20Gb HD = £279.98
So the same price as the ‘360 pack’ then, but without all the extra bits
You’d have to be pretty dumb not to get the full pack. Or a clueless parent, but then that probably is the point.
That’s pretty much my rant over. To be honest once this damn thing is finally released all the hoo-hah will be forgotten and we’ll get down to playing to some top new games.
As for me, I still plonked my £20 deposit on the table at Game this lunchtime. So I’m committed to getting a brand new games console on day of release for the first time ever!
How exciting, I hope they do that opening till midnight malarkey!
The only problem left is how to actually pay for the damn thing, especially as I’ve finally got my act together and asked Claire to be my wife…