Amidst all the Diablo 3 excitement that PC gamers are experiencing, the console players of the world were delighted to hear that rumors of the $99 Xbox360 were true. If you are a reader of my past articles you are no newcomer to the fact that I have been dissapointed with the hardware offerings of the two titans in the industry. While sales stay strong, this tends to lead console makers to become complacent and in the mind set of, “if people keep throwing money at us”, why should we even consider changing things. If you or a family member is in the market for an Xbox and highly consider buying one, have them read my article because what I am about to talk about may change their minds.
First, let us get to the facts. The $99 XBox does not come without its strings attached. Much like a cell-phone contract, you are committing to signing up for 2-years of Xbox Live @ $15 a month. What this means, is that by the time the two years is up you will have in essence paid $459 for the 4GB Xbox 360 with Kinect. Besides the clunky, gimmicky, and casual games the Kinect offers, you essentially are getting a base model arcade 360. With rumors of the upcoming XBOX720 in 2013, you may be stuck with an already outdated (by today’s tech standards) console for another two years. It does not take an absolute genius to realize that this looks to be a last minute effort to expunge the remaining stock of old Xbox360s by Microsoft.
One side of the argument that I have heard, is that this selling model is absolute genius, and how this is an effort for the likes of Microsoft and Sony to have consoles become more than just gaming devices and allow the casual person to have an all in one media device at home. Wait. All-in-one media device? You mean a PC? Consider the below, the current specs of the Xbox360:
CPU: 3.2 GHZ Triple Core Processor
Memory: 512MB of GDDR3 RAM (Not even 1GB)
Video GPU: 500MHZ ATI Xenos
HD Storage: 4GB
Now let’s take a look at a base model computer from an online retailer for less than the final price
CPU: AMD Quad Core A8-3820
Memory: 6GB of GDDR3 (expandable to 16GB)
Video GPU: AMD (Ati) 6550D graphics
HD Storage: 1TeraByte
The difference in hardware capabilities are so obvious I should not have to go further into reasoning of why the pricing is still ridiculous. With a PC, you not only bought hardware that can be used for more than just gaming and watching NetFlix, it is also more easily serviceable and upgradeable.
Of course, I understand a PC isn’t for everyone and some people just enjoy playing on consoles. If that is the case, I implore you to simply wait until a release date is announced for the XBox720. Even if you are not an early adopter of new technology and hardware, the simply fact is, when new hardware is introduced software developers start working on new titles that you will want to play within the first year of release. Developers of games soon to be released for the 360 are already having to put content on multiple discs due to the fact that the discs themselves are becoming dated as well and simply running out of space.
As a gamer, and fan of all forms of hardware (variety is the spice of life afterall), the fact that Microsoft is selling re-skinned versions of their existing console, absolutely disgusts me. An R2-D2 themed Xbox for $449.00 or a Modern Warfare 3 branded Xbox for $399.00 simply makes me want to vomit. In closing, if you are hard up for a new Xbox or console, just wait. Save your $99, and put aside $15 a month until the new consoles are announced or released. Worst case scenario, so many people will be selling off their old hardware for pennies on the dollar to upgrade to the latest and greatest, and you aren’t stuck for the next two years with a $400+ console of yesteryear. If anyone reading this is looking to build a PC or not sure how, email me, I will gladly point you in the right direction.