Xbox 360 Launch Guide - Overall EvaluationBy: VGGEN Staff
A good system launch can give a product momentum that improves business for years to come, and Microsoft will definitely need plenty of momentum on its side once Sony and Nintendo join the battle sometime next year. So how is the Xbox 360 launch shaping up? We take a look at the...
Obviously, the key to the successful launch of a new console is the overall lineup of games available on day one. It doesn't have to be a large number of titles necessarily (Nintendo easily sold out of N64s on the strength of Super Mario 64 & Pilotwings 64 alone), but on the whole it must be appealing enough that the early adopters don't shy away from adopting.
Microsoft has definitely accomplished that much at least, as the lineup is filled with quality titles across most key genres. While there doesn't appear to be one true "killer app" (the closest probably being Perfect Dark Zero or Project Gotham Racing 3), there are several titles that early adopters probably won't mind spending $60 on. Still, the absence of several blockbuster titles originally scheduled for launch (The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, etc.) is certainly felt.
Microsoft's timing is both good and bad. It's good that they're getting a huge jump on the competition (perhaps a whole year and at least one Christmas season to itself), but it's bad that it comes at the expense of the original Xbox. Recent Xbox releases show that the console still has plenty of life left in it, and abandoning it before it's time is sure to leave some Xbox fans miffed. Backwards compatibility may help however, encouraging third parties to release original Xbox games later than they would otherwise.
The same can be said on a global scale. Launching the Xbox 360 in North America, Europe, and Japan in the span of a month is definitely impressive, although the anticipated shortages in North America are certainly due in part to this very thing.
3rd Party Support
Microsoft hasn't had a problem garnering third-party support for the Xbox 360, as every major developer and publisher seemingly has something in the works. Even more impressive are its efforts in Japan, where virtually every company is onboard despite a very weak performance from the original Xbox. If the Xbox 360 ultimately "loses" to the PlayStation 3, a lack of games will not be the reason.
Microsoft kicked off serious promotion of the Xbox 360 with a disastrous MTV special, that proceeded like a bad infomercial and had more people watching to see The Killers then anything else. Then at E3, most of the lineup shown was simply too early and failed to impress the majority of jaded journalists attending the show. Since then Microsoft has corrected these mistakes with strong showings at X05 and elsewhere, but the old adage about first impressions definitely holds true.
As far as pure advertising is concerned, up until a few days ago it was non-existent save for magazine ads and the Xbox 360 logo on commercials for multi-platform games like Tony Hawk's American Wasteland. Recently, the "Jump In" commercials have started airing along with a few for games like Project Gotham Racing 3, Madden, NBA 2K6, and Call of Duty 2. While not showing any gameplay footage, the "Jump In" campaign has been a success as the commercials are unique enough to catch the viewer's attention and deliver the message that the console is fun for everyone (based on my own observation of non-gamers anyway).
So overall, it has not been an impressive promotional effort. While Microsoft has done what it needed to do to insure a sellout on launch day and throughout the rest of the year, it's not doing enough in my opinion to insure the Xbox 360 remains a must-have console as the competition approaches well into next year.
If you're reading this, you probably know by now that demand for the Xbox 360 is going to far outstrip supply on November 22nd. While the estimated 400,000 units available on launch day is much more than systems like the N64 and PS2 had (remember those shortages?), it's obviously not going to be enough. While Microsoft expects to ship more systems through the end of the year, there are still going to be plenty of frustrated parents and gamers that may ultimately decide to wait for a PS3 or Revolution. I'm sure third-parties don't appreciate the smaller pool of potential customers either, and that's bad no matter how you look at it.
In a way, Microsoft faces its easiest competition ever this holiday season. Sony seems dead set against appearing to act in response to the Xbox 360's release, so its aging PS2 will once again be $150 through the holiday season. Meanwhile, Nintendo's GameCube is rapidly fading into obscurity with no major software releases and the beginnings of a mass exodus of third-party support.
Really, the Xbox 360's primary competition this season comes from the original Xbox. Several multiplatform releases look almost as good on Xbox as they do on Xbox 360, which will surely convince some gamers that they can take a wait and see approach before spending money on a next-generation console. Either way it's win-win for MS.