Xbox 360s. Where are they? For being one of the hottest gift items of 2005, there hasn’t been much talk about Microsoft’s new frosty-colored gaming console. Many people just can’t seem to get their hands on one. That’s without having to resort to buying it on eBay for well over the MSRP cost ($399.99 for the premium unit) or buying bundles of 20 from a wholesaler.
What about game enthusiasts who don’t want to mortgage their homes to pick up the new Xbox? Unfortunately, Microsoft is making the transition to next-generation video game entertainment a troublesome and unnerving task.
One would think that everyone would have their own 360 by now. That’s what department stores like Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, and Circuit City had promised before the Christmas rush. “Sorry, there is nothing in at the moment, but we’re expecting more shipments by the middle of January,” as the store customer service representative explained.
Now, we’re in the middle of January and still no 360. Presently, all of the other Xbox 360-related material is going to waste and collecting dust on the shelves.
In addition, what’s going to happen when these stores finally do get their shipments of the 360? Microsoft regulates shipments to these department stores in bundles of 10 to 12 consoles each shipment, and just forget about trying to get one from your local GameStop or EB Games, because a great majority of their shipments have been put on customer reserve. Is this just poor planning by Microsoft to meet a surprisingly high demand for next-generation video game systems or is this just clever marketing to encourage the prices to skyrocket because they’re in such high demand?
When the original Xbox was released in 2001, it faced tough competition from Sony’s PlayStation 2. Then in November 2005, Microsoft released its new Xbox 360 but with a few tricks up the sleeve. Microsoft shipped less than 1 million consoles in the United States. Why would it ship so few consoles to a significantly higher projected gaming community?
The answer is simple – to sabotage Sony’s PlayStaton 3 (scheduled to come out in spring 2006). Microsoft already announced the release date of the new addition to its coveted Halo game franchise (Halo 3) to match up with the same release date of the PS3. Of course, this tactic appears to be a low blow – especially with few Xbox 360 consoles released at the moment. My guess is that Microsoft will “surprisingly” release a substantial amount of Xbox 360 consoles around this time period as well.
This way, Microsoft can keep the gaming community on ice and allow a consumer race to build up the expectations of the 360, with few of its consoles on the market. Additionally, when Sony releases its new PS3, Microsoft will overshadow its competition with the iconic Halo 3 and a fresh batch of 360 consoles. Ultimately, Microsoft and other software developers brush off the public with a cold shoulder and purposely drive a product buying frenzy, thinking about competition rather than ethically meeting demand.
In the end, they are the ones who advertise and push their products in the faces of the public, creating buyer hysteria. But now, Microsoft the video game monster cannot get its next fix, forcing a vast majority of gamers to go cold turkey. It’s either bad business practice or just simply lack of concern for buyers.
Sorry, gamers. You’ll just have to wait for an Xbox 360 to be readily available on the market. But don’t worry, there will still be plenty of games and accessories leftover from the first wave of 360 shipments.
Fred Frenzel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.