It’s probably a case of Microsoft being damned if they do and damned if they don’t.
With three different flavours to cater for three different types of user, the Xbox 360 is arguably doing pretty much everything it can to appeal to as broad a spectrum of gamers as possible.
It’s all about choice, with the most popular option still likely to be the Premium pack as most consumers just want to play games on it. Something that might be seen as a bizarre concept in the midst of the corporate ‘my hard drive’s bigger than yours’, HD-DVD vs Blu-ray willy-waving.
Perhaps we’ve lost sight of what should be the primary focus: the games. Dress them up in as many bells and whistles as you like, but these wonderful machines are still used as games consoles by the majority of consumers – this ‘entertainment hub’ guff might look great on paper, but who actually bought their 360 because they can run a slideshow of their holiday snaps from their digital camera through it?
The Elite will appeal to those who want to squeeze the maximum out of their 360; those who want to play in the highest of high-def and are despised by their next door neighbour who is kept awake by the deafening cries of the Locust Horde in 5.1 surround.
Whilst HDMI is better quality connection, Joe Public is not really going to be falling over themselves to switch if they already have a decent high-def component cable set-up. The bigger hard drive is a welcome addition, though, particularly with larger Live Arcade games becoming the norm following Castlevania and the rumoured Quake III on the way.
Personally, what’s really important is for Microsoft to be seen to be placating those who want to upgrade to the new Elite model but who are perhaps understandably miffed at the prospect, having already paid out for what they thought at the time was a ‘top of the range’ machine.
It would be a welcome gesture if Microsoft provides some kind of nod to those who have supported the 360 from the outset. Perhaps some kind of discount exchange system for those who want to upgrade from the Core and Premium models to the new all-singing, all-dancing Elite?
This could be in the form of a voucher on 360 products from Microsoft, giving consumers the choice of redeeming it on games, a new wireless control pad or a Live Gold subscription. It’s a courteous gesture to the hardcore that have supported the 360 from the off… and good PR apart from anything else.