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November 20, 2005

Xbox 360 Launch Roundup

Bracing for the Xbox 360 rush:

If you need to find Joey Nelson at dawn on Tuesday morning, your best bet is a Best Buy near Los Angeles.

Like thousands of videogame enthusiasts around the country, Nelson–a 23-year-old quality assurance tester–will be waiting for the store to open so he can get his hands on an Xbox 360. The Microsoft game console will finally, after months of hype, go on sale just after midnight Tuesday.

And while those with a little patience will likely be able to get Xboxes in the days or weeks following Tuesday’s official launch, it’s the threat of shortages that’s drawing people like Nelson to early-morning lines.

“It seems like if I don’t get it on day one, I might have to wait awhile,” said Nelson.

Most bizarre statement:

“We’re not aware of any shortages,” said Karen Burk, a spokesperson for Wal-Mart, the country’s largest chain of retail stores. “We’re anticipating being able to meet the demand.”

Wal-Mart ought to put Karen on the electronics counter for laughs.

And as far as the shortages being a “Microsoft conspiracy,” Microsoft executive Peter Moore says:

“I’ve seen all of the conspiracy theories. Somewhere in Roswell, New Mexico, we have a hangar where we’re stockpiling it, creating false shortages. No,” said Moore, a Microsoft corporate vice president. He called the theories “ridiculous” and said the company is “trying to get as many units to retail as we possibly can.”

But what else would you expect him to say? There is speculation that better planning by both Microsoft and retailers might have helped, but however it occurred, the apparent shortage is good for amplified buzz.

Some new reviews and comments:

Chris Kohler at Wired:

If you already have an HDTV and want something to show it off, the 360 certainly does the trick. It’s the most impressive use I’ve found so far for my flat-screen TV — even though it isn’t exactly what I imagined the next generation of video-game systems would bring to my living room.

John Dvorak:

Real progress in desktop computing always stems from gaming. Even the invention of spreadsheets was a sort of game, and all the display technologies were boosted by gamers. But in the mid- to late 1990s, the scene began to focus purely on business computing, giving it a largely undeserved leadership role.

As a result, the innovative game coders and freethinkers were spun off into their own world. But they were the ones who were needed to make grand schemes of integration and convergence work. The business dudes thought that good ideas would magically work themselves out through free-market forces. That didn’t mean savvy game developers; it meant outsourcing to India. The result is a stagnant, half-dead gaming business.

Luckily Microsoft’s Xbox 360 crew, and other game developers, are working on cool stuff that will cross over to PCs. When game developers retake their rightful place on top of the hill of progress, we’ll all be better off. Needless to say, I am impressed by the Xbox 360.

The problem with the above is that they are about how swell the graphics and user interface are and how well the Xbox 360 is integrated with other gadgetry. I’ve got news, you still need some game appeal and that’s what Maxine Shen complains about in the NY Post:

Don’t believe the hype — and don’t buy the Xbox 360.

Oh, it’s an amazing console, don’t get us wrong. Plugged into a high-definition television set with a booming sound system, it’s amazing, a wonderland of sights and music.

But that’s the part of the problem. To get the full Xbox 360 experience, you need to spend hundreds — perhaps thousands — of dollars. All that for a machine that won’t play the hot games this season, like “Star Wars: Battlefront II” and “50 Cent: Bulletproof.”

Douglass Perry, editor in chief of the Xbox channel on IGN, says, “If you can wait, the second wave of games [due next year] are going to give developers the chance to really show us next-generation gaming in the truest sense.”

Finally, here’s a nice collection of high-res game screenshots and for the truly addicted you can see photos of unpacking the shipping box or watch the techies at AnandTech take their Xbox 360 apart.

Posted at 9:02 am. Filed under Companies, Microsoft, Video Games, Xbox 360

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