Microsoft’s (MSFT) first Xbox had a four-year run: The console debuted in 2001, and was succeeded by the Xbox 360 in 2005. But don’t expect a new Xbox just because we’re another four years out — Microsoft Xbox chief Robbie Bach says the 360 will be it for a while longer.
Bloomberg: Bach made his entertainment and consumer-device division profitable last fiscal year after losing more than $3 billion in the previous two years. Now the executive said the quality of graphics on the Xbox 360 and its competitors, Nintendo’s Wii and Sony’s PlayStation 3, is so good that it will be more difficult to get gamers to buy a new version.
“Just coming up with something that’s faster and prettier isn’t going to be sufficient,” said Bach, 47. “The life cycle for this generation of consoles — and I’m not just talking about Xbox, I’d include Wii and PS3 as well — is probably going to be a little longer than previous generations.”
Smart move by Microsoft. Game consoles have generally been evolving faster than the TVs they pair with, one of the problems with the PS3 is few gamers have the kind of HDTV sets that make its Blu-ray capabilities worth the premium over the Xbox’s “upconverting” DVD drive. Throw in the recession, and the time isn’t right to try to push a new console on consumers.
So if Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices division isn’t working on a new console at the moment, what are they doing? Bach says he’s planning more features in Microsoft $50/yr Xbox Live service, now 17 million subscriptions strong.
A good plan. But despite Microsoft’s constant crowing they’re whipping the PS3, the larger picture in games is both the Xbox and PS3 are getting stomped by the Wii. Could Microsoft ever bring Wii-style Nunchuk controllers to the X360 and try to cash in on the “casual gaming” craze of low-tech games with innovative controls? Why not?
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