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Joystiq Interview with Microsoft Xbox/PS3: The Tides Are Turning |

In reading gaming sites for the last few years, I’m used to two things: a journalistic hive mind that that has a pro-Microsoft and anti-Sony sentiment and a comments section that routinely devolves into very typical arguments between PS3 fans and Xbox fans.

This interview with Xbox executive Aaron Greenberg is interesting for two things:

  • Joystiq was rather bluntly critical of Xbox’s pricing, particularly related to WiFi and hard drive upgrades. This isn’t news to any PS3 fan, but it’s a shock compared to the norm of carefully orchestrated interviews and pro-Microsoft sentiment. One good quote from Joystiq

    The thing is, if I go and buy a USB adapter for an old laptop, it’s $9.99. But then if I go and buy Microsoft’s version it’s $99.99 so there seems to be a pretty serious price disparity going on. Consumers aren’t dumb and they see this one on the shelf that’s $9.99 and here’s this other USB adapter that’s right next to it that has Xbox branding on it and it’s 10 times the cost, that’s a little difficult to rectify. And I think – especially with the $300 Slim coming with not only a Blu-ray player but built-in WiFi – I think a lot of people expected Microsoft to include that in this new SKU. To be honest, I’m surprised that it’s not at least being lowered.

  • There is almost no arguing in the comments. Instead, it’s filled by people who are believably long-time Xbox fans who are pointing out how much better the PS3 is and how the Microsoft exec’s responses are obviously manipulative PR nonsense that makes it worse.

I’m so used to Microsoft execs having the magic touch. Microsoft charges $50/year for online features that everyone else gives away for free, and as long as they have a smooth talking executive on stage or in a few orchestrated interveiews, they have a huge fan base that isn’t merely sympathetic, but ecstatic to pay it. They have ridiculous price gouging for a base feature like WiFi, and they have a fan base who ardently defends it, claiming that plenty of people can use wired access (come on, realistically, I’d estimate 15% or so have convenient wired access to their gaming area). Microsoft can offer a Netflix service that is a terrible deal next to Roku (free WiFi and only requires base Netflix subscription) or Internet enabled HDTV sets or regular laptops, yet they have the majority of the media claiming this is the best thing ever. They have a mostly derivative copy-cat games lineup that is miles behind what Sony offers, and the media loves it.

What’s surprsing is that seems to be changing. The PS3 has been consistently putting out a larger quantity of higher quality innovative games, their hardware is the same base price with many more features, it’s smaller, lighter, quieter, and more reliable. And the general sentiment is definitely starting to change…

  • Kicks

    Lets just hope that this is a sign of things to come and that the tides of PS3 hate cease. I just want a good gaming system that works when I want it to.

    I went through 4 xbox 360’s before I gave up and stopped paying for live and migrated to the ps3 100%. I even sold my 360 to pay for the ps3 version of rock band 2 and sold my rock band 2 360 setup to a friend 🙂

  • JimmyMagnum

    It’s about damn time. Too bad these realizations didn’t come sooner, though. On the bright side, even a lot of my xbot friends are starting to lean toward the PS3. I think that M$ is losing their “magic” touch and people are beginning to catch on to the “illusions” they’ve set in front of us and realizing that it is, indeed, propagandist manipulation of the media

  • hobbes

    i’ll possibly buy a 360 if they give live for free, games like braid and shadow complex look cool, kinda want to play fable as well

  • Legion

    GAH! I’ve been saying this crap for years. All the Xbox fan boys piss me off so much. I’ve stated in many forums when the price of the PS3 came up. How it is way over priced for a “worse system”.

    I stated how The Wi-Fi adapter is $100 from microsoft. While the PS3 is built into the system.

    Then how the rechargeable battery packs use to cost 25 dollars. While the PS3 controllers are all rechargeable.

    The ability to play online cost $50 with the Xbox360. You can do that for free on the PS3.

    When I bought my Xbox it came with a 20GB HDD. To upgrade you have to buy a specific Microsoft HDD. The 120GB cost $150. Thats half of what the system cost. My PS3 came with a 60GB HDD. Then to upgrade I can buy any 2.5″ (Laptop) HDD and it can be 250GB which only cost $65. A 500GB for $90.

    When I bought my Xbox they didn’t offer the elite. So I don’t have HDMI capabilities. Where as the PS3’s first models had it built in. If I wan’t the best possible picture on my HDTV. I have to go out and buy a new Xbox360 Elite. Which use to cost $400. Until the PS3 announced their price drop. Then Microsoft was like “Oh Sh!t”. Now an Elite cost $300.

    Not to mention the Blu-ray capabilities. When the Blu-ray\HD-DVD format war was on. People paid 200 dollars extra for something that would attach to the Xbox and play HD-DVDs. The PS3 had the Blu-ray built in.

    So when you look at everything Which system is the over priced system?

    Xbox – Initial price of the pro $400
    Wifi adapter $100
    Rechargable batter $25
    Xbox live $50
    HDD upgrade $150
    HD-DVD $200
    HDMI capability $400
    So if you bought the Pro back in the day. You’re looking at a $925 price tag. Just to have the ability to do everything the PS3 does.

    If you was smart and waited for the Elite which initially cost $450. You’re looking at a $825 price tag.

    Now since you can’t buy a HD-DVD adapter anymore. You have to go out and buy a Blu-ray player. Which now can be bought for $100. Which by the way will not be as good as the PS3 Blu-ray. thats still $825 and $725 respectively.

    Now, the PS3 comes with all of that. Blu-ray, HDMI, Wifi, rechargeable controllers, the ability to play online for free. All at the price of $600 if you bought it when they first came out. to upgrade the HDD is just $665. Which to me is still a lot better then $825.

    The thing is. People only look at the initial cost the system it self. They don’t go and look at what all they are getting at that price tag. Which is fine. If you don’t need or want wifi then you don’t have to buy the adapter for the Xbox. But at least the PS3 gives you the option either way.

    Now let’s look at this as if you don’t own either system and are looking to buy one or the other.

    The Xbox Elite now dropped to $300 dollars starting today. It still does not have a Blu-ray player. It no longer comes with any games, component video cable or HDMI cable. Still no built in Wifi.

    The PS3 now $300. Has a Blu-ray player. built in Wifi, probably doesn’t come with HDMI cable or component cable.

    Which system is over priced now?

  • Mike

    The accessory pricing on Xbox 360 is abysmal. Now that PS3’s point of entry price is more palatable to most people it is going to shine a light on how sad the pricing is for wifi, hard drives, and everything else.

    I really don’t understand the logic of not getting larger storage into people’s hands at a reasonable price. I’m pretty much done with DLC and XBLA games until they do something about it.

    And not having at least component cables is a bit ridiculous of both Sony and Microsoft but perhaps the assumption is that anyone who cares already has them. So glad I kept my 360 component cables when my first system red rings. Get to use the purchase amount (in store warranty) to get an arcade that only came with RCA cables!

  • Kicks

    hobbes :
    i’ll possibly buy a 360 if they give live for free, games like braid and shadow complex look cool, kinda want to play fable as well

    Braid is rumored to be coming to ps3 🙂

  • JimmyStewart

    Legion, if you’re going to begrudge the XBox things like the launch 360 not having HDMI (requiring a new unit apparently), you’ve got to be fair about it. Don’t forget to tack on Netflix streaming ($100 box minimum), buying the laptop drive to upgrade the launch PS3 to 120 and backwards compatibility ($100 PS2 minimum) to the price of the PS3. This whole price debate gets increasingly ridiculous, both sides just use stats in different ways to try and trash the other side.

    That said… some 360 pricing is insane, especially at this point. I think when the consoles launched it made a lot more sense. Most people don’t want/need wifi and a lot could make do without a hard drive. In response you get a cheaper console by far! It made sense that the PS3 would have all that at twice the price. But now that the console prices are dropping and everything seems roughly equal, one does start to question why the new revisions of the 360 don’t include WiFi! It’s in the Wii and the DS has it for crying out loud!

    And it’s really hard to knock anything about the PS3’s hard drive replacement system. It’s great. No one in my core group of friends and family is what would be called a fanboy. We all only care about games, not the corporate brands on the boxes that play them. For the most part the 360 handles all of the gaming for us. But the hard drive swapping is the main feature that’s gotten all of their attention. If there’s any feature the PS3 has that most 360 owners want, I’d say it’s that one (outside of Blu-Ray of course).

  • JimmyStewart

    “Microsoft charges $50/year for online features that everyone else gives away for free, and as long as they have a smooth talking executive on stage or in a few orchestrated interveiews, they have a huge fan base that isn’t merely sympathetic, but ecstatic to pay it.”

    I can tackle that one. Again, for myself and my friends of gamers… we don’t care about a smooth talking executive. To be honest I’ve never even heard any executive speak about this. The reason we gladly pay for XBox Live is because of the excellent service it provides. It’s unparalleled for me. The PS3 service is adequate, but is still missing most of the great community features MS has been doing for years. Also I pay it because that’s where all the games I play are, and where all my friends are playing.

    And also to be honest, I probably wouldn’t pay $50 a year for the service. I’ve been a member of Live since it launched. I only paid $50 the first time I signed up. Last year I renewed my account AND my wife’s account for a total of $37. That’s $18.50 a year… just about $1 a month. Anyone still paying MS $50 a year for Live probably shouldn’t be using the internet at all.

  • Darrin

    I completely disagree on the cables issue. People are well split between using composite/component/HDMI, many people already have cables and can reuse them, it’s really easy to buy your own, they are non-proprietary and industry standard, and even with some retail stores price gouging, there are plenty of retail stores that give you good deals, and of course they are next to nothing if you buy online.

    Also, I probably will eventually get a 360 as a second console. Eventually there will be enough exclusives and the price will come down enough where it will make sense. But $400 for just the base system and WiFi without the online subscription is really crazy, especially four years into the console’s life span. Maybe next year, if Natal looks good and they have some good bundles.

  • Darrin

    OK, good point on Xbox Live. I believe you that it’s better in terms of cross game voice chat and overall integration.

    However, doesn’t the Gold subscription auto-resubscribe? I know there are plenty of special deals for your initial subscription, but for your resubs, isn’t it harder to take advantage of special deals? I’d imagine most people get busy with other things in life, and the auto-resubscription takes effect.

  • JimmyStewart

    Darrin :
    OK, good point on Xbox Live. I believe you that it’s better in terms of cross game voice chat and overall integration.
    However, doesn’t the Gold subscription auto-resubscribe? I know there are plenty of special deals for your initial subscription, but for your resubs, isn’t it harder to take advantage of special deals? I’d imagine most people get busy with other things in life, and the auto-resubscription takes effect.

    Yeah it does. Thankfully they’ve made it a lot easier to turn that off now. You used to have to call in to disable it.
    I don’t think it makes it much harder to take advantage of deals, MS typically sends you an e-mail a month or two in advance to let you know your subscription is running out. That usually gives me ample warning to do a few google searchs for discounts. I do know one person who did get nailed with an auto-resub charge. But to be fair, this person regularly gets nailed by the electric company when they ‘auto-resub’ every month. They just don’t pay attention to bills. If you can manage to pay bills on time and when they’re due, then XBox Live is really no different. Except that the power company usually doesn’t give me a month or two to Google better deals.

  • JimmyStewart

    I should add that it is my dream to see the PS3 get up to speed with their free service. I think the $50 charge will be impossible to make when the competition to MS is offering a equal or superior value for free.
    Hopefully it doesn’t work in the other direction. I’d hate to see Sony catch up to XBox Live… and then roll out a subscription plan of their own.

  • the only thing that comes to mind after reading the article (skipped the comments sorry): “About bloody time!”

  • No Kill Tayler

    I’ll be posting my thoughts on cross-game chat in the near future.

  • This article brought something to my attention… it’s true I used to be a pretty hardcore Xbox fan then my roommate got a PS3 and ever since I’ve been hooked. To expand the 360s capabilities to that of a PS3 requires forking out alot of cash, when the PS3 just comes with features like WiFi HD outputs etc. And online play… the PS3 definitely kicks ass there. I mean why pay for XboxLive when you can play free!

  • Angus-MacGyver-

    I have a Xbox 360 PRO and a non BC 80gb PS3 (and a Home Theater PC which also passes as a decent gaming rig). I use them all on and off as I usually focus on one game at a time.

    I paid 38 dollars on amazon for a 13 month subscription to XBL. That is three dollars a month. It is fun playing with people, and since the Xbox 360 itself came with a headset I had one to talk to the other players. I’ve played many games on the PSN where not one player on my side talks, how dull is that? At least screaming kids give some sense that I am playing with real people, not AI. The service isn’t fantastic, but cross game chat with four friends playing four different games costs something.

    The 20 gig hard drive my 360 came with can be upgraded using a few compatible 60 or 120 gb HDDs, but it will void the warranty on the HDD since it will be opened.

    The batteries inside the controller can be changed, so when (not if) the rechargable batteries wear out, the controller doesn’t become wired only. When I first opened my PS3 box, I never found the USB charger for the controller, I was lucky enough to have one from something else.

    Speaking of wires, the 360 came with component cables while my PS3 came with the standard yellow red and white cables. HDMI cables aren’t expensive, but they go bad faster than first party cables.

    The PS3 has wireless, but I insist using a wired connection if possible. Wireless is too finicky on my antiquated equipment. I got a 50 foot Ethernet cbale for around $5 on eBay. I switch it to the PS3 if I get serious into a multiplayer game.

  • Daki

    The 360 Elit is still way cheeper than the ps3slim here in sweden. It’s like ~3600SEK ~$500 for the ps3 slim and the 360 Elit is ~2600SEK $360. This really sucks D.B.

  • Legion

    To JimmyStewert,

    I added the cost of the hard drive upgrades in my original post. For both the 360 and the PS3. I said I could get a 250GB harddrive for $65 for my PS3. While the cost of the Xbox 120GB harddrive cost $150. More then double the cost for less than half the space.

    About backwards compatibility. In my original post I explained I was comparing the 2 systems at their launch. Which is when I bought them.
    The PS3 I own still has the backwards compatible chip built in. They did end up removing this chip from any other model that was not the 60GB version.
    The Xbox360 does have some backwards compatibility. However, after the first year they stopped supporting it and no long add games to the list that you can find on their site. The list is quite small actually. But it does feature most of the big titles you would expect people would want to play.

    The ability to stream Netflix is a nice feature on the Xbox360. However you must keep a Xbox Live Gold membership in order to do so.
    I already added the XBL price and since you don’t pay Microsoft directly for Netflix I didn’t feel it necessary to tact that on. However if you would like I can explain more about Netflix.

    Like I said, In order to steam netflix on your xbox360 you must keep an XBL Gold Account. Which is $50. That is what Microsoft charges so that is the price I am using.
    Nexflix subscription is $9 for the lowest plan. Which is roughly $120 a year. So that’s $170 you’re looking at a year for the ability to steam Netflix on your xbox. That is not for the HD streaming either.

    Either way you can’t do it on the PS3. You can rent movies for about $3 or buy them for $15. I don’t bother doing either.

    However, Your Xbox is not the only or best way to stream Netflix. You can buy a box for $100 and won’t have to pay any more other then your Nexflix subscription. Or if you’re one of the many people who own a PC/Mac you can stream Netflix on there just the same. Again no additional fee other then the Netflix subscription. Making that $100 for the box pointless to add to the overall price of the PS3. Even TV’s can now steam Netflix directly. Without needing an additional box.

    So over all. Making Netflix steaming on the Xbox a key point is useless. Since you can accomplish this through other cheaper means.

  • Hi,
    I really like your post.I like the interview section at starting of the blog.I don’t have Xbox or PS3 but when I heard about PS3 slim,I decided to buy it immediately.I liked the graphic quality of previous PS3 but it was too costly.But ‘slim’ is good with its new features and price.Thanks for this post.