2 Cents to Play: Console Price Cuts

Originally published in The Daily Iowan 9/01/2009

It’s official now — both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are down to $300, only $50 more than the Wii (which has outsold both since being released). But will these price cuts change anything?

The short answer is “yes.” Both Microsoft and Sony will see an increase in sales through the holiday season. There’s also good reason to believe that the PlayStation 3 will outsell the 360 because of the built-in Blu-ray player and Wi-Fi capabilities. However, if the Wii’s popularity has shown us anything in this current generation of consoles, it’s that the consumer doesn’t always care about the technological features.

The Blu-ray player may sell some people on the PlayStation 3 over the 360, but no one will buy Sony’s console for the sole purpose of gaming. When I was at Wal-Mart recently, I saw a Blu-ray player for a $100, and I’m sure even more of them will be that price by Christmas. These things obviously don’t matter, though, because the Wii doesn’t have high-definition graphics or play DVDs — let alone Blu-ray — and it still outsells both consoles.

The Xbox 360 is the Wii for hard-core gamers, except it uses its library to draw in players. Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, EA Sports Games, Rock Band/Guitar Hero, and now the latest Final Fantasy entry are all on both consoles. Microsoft is also the exclusive home of the Halo series, downloadable chapters for Grand Theft Auto IV, and the Mass Effect trilogy. I can’t find a single title coming for the PlayStation 3 that makes me want one the same way that Grand Theft Auto III made me want a PlayStation 2.

While Wii owners are sacrificing a deep third-party library for more immersion, Xbox owners sacrifice the lack of built-in Wi-Fi, free — albeit poorly executed — online service, and a Blu-ray player. But in the end it’s a fair trade.

Currently playing: NHL 10 demo, NHL 09, Grand Theft Auto IV, NCAA Football 10

Wish I was playing: Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony, NHL 10, Beatles Rock Band, Mass Effect 2.

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