Today, we introduce a segment about current events in the gaming world. Although we like talking about news and previews, there are plenty of dedicated journalism sources on the Internet. We won't be getting any secret leaked information that you can't get elsewhere. What we can do is share our thoughts on said events and leaked secrets with you. Both of us feel like there is a lot of important and interesting stuff going on in thevideogame industry that gets reported, yet not discussed.
A note on the format: What you're reading here are excerpts from a conversation we had over Skype. Since we don't have the technology or the funds to do a podcast (yet!), we thought we'd try out a little stream-of-consciousness-meets-interview-transcript format. What you read here are the written highlights (via Google chat) of our conversation. We're presenting it with minimal edits in order to retain the feel and spirit of our conversation, so hopefully you find our spelling errors, grammatical abominations, and occasional rambling incoherence charming. Expect these news posts to change periodically as we experiment with this format.
Today's topic: The Xbox Arcade price cut
Jorge: News: Xbox Arcade $199, 60gb elite $299
60g 299, elite 399
Scott: Do I now need an xbox? That's cheaper than the wii I just bought.
Jorge: Unless you're itching for a PS3 you won't need one now. If you want a PS3 it might be worth waiting to see if Sony drops their price in reaction to thexbox price drop. Sony can't wait too long though, unless they drop the price before the holiday buying season people will likely just buy a 360.
Scott: I'm a bit worried about storage on the xbox 360 sans hard drive. Can you buy an external hard drive?
Jorge: You got me. Part of the appeal for the sans hard drive arcade is that it's something cheap that has enough memory to play xbox live arcade games that tend to be pretty small. I'm curious who is really buying this system anyway? There has got to be an audience they are targeting.
Scott: I really don't know who is buying xboxes these days.
Jorge: I think part of what they are aiming for is bringing in the Wii audience. Particularly picking up those people who want a Wii this holiday season but can't find one considering there are still shortages two years down the line. Which is just crazy to me.
Scott: I can't see my grandparents or their friends (who are well aware of the Wii, some even own it) even considering an xbox, regardless of price. It seems that Wii is selling a lifestyle almost. And regardless of how intricate or simple the arcade games are, the interface is still the controller, which scares away a lot of new gamers.
Jorge: This actually connects well to the feature you wrote. If Wiis are really selling the lifestyle and the aesthetic nature of their system, then I really do think Microsoft can pick up new gamers off their market. It's not like they always show off all the intricacies of their remote on the box art that packages the 360.
Scott: So then are they angling to make the xbox an impulse buy? Put a few Mii-like avatars on the box art, put a space-invaders like arcade game, and then you have a good holiday alternative for the Wii?
Jorge: I think that is exactly right. I think it will be an impulse buy for a lot of people. If you spruce up the box art and and plaster a simple white console on the cover, maybe a new xbox avatar and their simple UI, five xbox live arcade games, it can look pretty attractive for someone browsing their neighborhood gamestop. And I'm figuring these buys are going to people who don't already own a next gen console. The casual gamers as we like to call them.
Scott: I'm just not confident that the xbla games actually can sell themselves to new people.
Jorge: A price cut could bring in a lot of people into the xbox and in turn into a type of gaming that Wii has yet to provide. At least that is what Microsoft is banking on.
Scott: The big challenge as I see it is getting past the world in which the only people who are playing xbla are also the "hardcore" crowd.
Scott: Getting back to the more avid gamer crowd...
I'm still not sure that any xbox price cut would make me get one.
Many huge games (Rock Band, Orange Box, soon to be Bioshock) are cross platform.
It's the PS3 exclusives that really are the deciding factor: Little Big Planet, PixelJunk Eden, God of War 3.
Jorge: If you're a PS3 owner, or a soon to be PS3 owner, this isn't going to be compelling enough, sure. There is no pressure Sony is feeling to drop their own rates that they haven't been feeling already. The only thing this could potential do is draw in the Wii crowd for the lasting benefit of microsoft. Which, again, is a great decision on their part considering the potential wii shortages this season.
Scott: I think Microsoft is playing a dangerous game.
Scott: They're trying to lure people in with an xbox that seems simple and friendly, but once these "simple" gamers spend some time in the xbox world, they'll quickly see the limitations of the system they bought and be pissed.
Jorge: So what you're saying is that those people who buy an xbox arcade for cheap because of new box art and a "sale" sign people are gonna be irritated that A:they didn't buy a hard drive or B: that they didn't buy a wii. Even if this happens, at least Microsoft made a few bucks off someone who would not be in their core market anyhow. Sounds like a pretty safe game to me.
Scott: I think it will be tough for Microsoft to make any inroads into the new gamer market this generation because of how strong the wii is in the public mindset.
Scott: So what do we think will come of this?
Jorge: Basically a whole lot of nothing.
1. An impulse buy for people
2. A way for microsoft to make inroads into the non-gamer community (not likely in the face of the wii)
3. A way to tempt potential PS3 owners towards xbox (maybe, but folks like me really want the Sony exclusives)
Sent at 9:26 PM on Tuesday
Scott: To me, it just seems like xbox is trying its hardest to be all things to all people and that this price cut is really about trying to get people away from the Wii and into the xbox. I'm not sure if it will succeed, but it seems like anyone who buys it is a victory for microsoft.
Jorge: Let's hope Sony and Nintendo call Microsoft's bluff and it doesn't pay out for Microsoft. Teach them a lesson.
Scott: But why do you hope that? lol
Jorge: I don't know. I just like to see big companies flounder.
Scott: Damn commie.
Jorge: Oddly enough "Damn commie" is my 360 gamertag.
Update: As we were readying post, Kotaku broke a story about huge Xbox sales numbers in Japan this week! Will America follow suit? Is the Wii's global reign of terror facing a serious challenge? Is Microsoft crazy...like a fox? Will we end each news post with a series of dramatic questions? Stay tuned to find out!