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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…