By Jared Newman | Monday, August 24, 2009 at 4:04 pm
With the Playstation 3 looking slimmer and cheaper than ever, all eyes are on Microsoft to retaliate. Rather than speculate on its own, IndustryGamers polled some of gaming’s crystal ball-holding analysts to find out what they thought.
The question: Do you think Microsoft will release an Xbox 360 Slim?
The response was mixed, with a few strong “yays” and “nays” on each side. That’s to be expected, but what surprised me was how only one analyst, Broadpoint AmTech’s Ben Schachter, flat-out predicted a redesign to complement the upcoming “Project Natal” motion-sensing camera. I think that’s the most likely scenario of all.
Earlier this year, it was rumored that Microsoft would do this, and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer goofed up and said as much. The PR backlash that followed left a lot of mixed messages — designed, I think, to squash the notion that Natal wouldn’t work on existing Xbox 360s — but ultimately a redesign wasn’t left off the table.
It doesn’t make sense for Microsoft to redesign its console in the near future, because it would smack of copying Sony. But it does make sense for Microsoft to reshape the Xbox 360 into something less hulky when Project Natal comes around. After all, the casual, non-gamer demographic is what Microsoft is going for with Project Natal, and a slimmer console would look less intimidating in the average living room.
I’ll admit that my opinion is tinged by the mock-ups that started floating around the Internet (pictured above) long before this story came to light. Sure, it’s totally fake just a rebranded PS2, but it kind of looks like the Wii, and I wouldn’t be surprised if “Wii-esque” is the strategy Microsoft adopts if it does plan an Xbox 360 Slim.
Then again, I don’t own a crystal ball.