When Microsoft boasted of 1 million sign-ups for the Xbox 360’s Netflix application — covered briefly Thursday in Harry’s “5Words” news roundup — Sony struck back, saying the Playstation 3’s movies and rentals download faster and don’t require subscription fees. Ouch.
But this was just the latest in an endless back-and-forth between the rival companies. Taken as a whole, this record of petty bickering actually makes for a good overview of each console’s pros and cons. Join us after the jump for more snipes, disses and burns.
January 20, 2009: Sony Computer Entertainment chairman Kazuo Hirai told Official Playstation Magazine that he couldn’t think of a word to describe the Xbox 360 as a competitor. “You need a word that describes something that lacks longevity,” Hirai said. “Last time I checked, they’ve never had a console that’s been on the market for more than four or five years and we’ve committed to a ten year life cycle, so you do the math.”
Rebuttal: Aaron Greenberg, head of Xbox 360 and Xbox Live product management, threw back some fighting words. “This sounds like an old hardware company that’s comfortable with its market position,” he told The BitBag. “That complacent attitude is out of touch with where the industry and consumer is today.” He added that Microsoft wants to focus on innovation and building a big game library.
Takeaway: If you’re willing to invest in the PS3 now, you’ll get new games for a long time. The Xbox 360’s future isn’t as certain, but its bigger install base will translate into more games sooner.
January 8, 2009: Out of nowhere, Sony slammed the Xbox 360 (and, to some extent, the Wii) for “peddling add-ons,” noting the Xbox 360’s extra cost for a hard drive, Wi-Fi and online gaming. “The Xbox 360 requires additional money, multiple upgrades and additional external devices, putting a burden on the wallet and adds clutter to the entertainment center,” the company wrote in a press release.
Rebuttal: Xbox 360 spokesman David Dennis told Edge that the flexibility was planned from the beginning. “The strategy of having a console that is $200 more expensive that has features that people don’t potentially need or want but have to pay for–looking at [Sony’s] sales numbers–I’d say it’s probably not the winning strategy at this point, especially given the current economic situation.”
Takeaway: Excellent burn, Dennis, but the core Xbox 360 system is so limited that it’s only worthwhile for the infrequent player. The argument over pricing is a wash for people who plan to spend lots of time with their consoles, even if Microsoft has tried to illustrate otherwise with beer.
May 12, 2008: A week after Grand Theft Auto IV was released for both consoles, Newsweek reported that the ratio of sales at Gamestop was 64 percent for the Xbox 360 to 36 percent for the PS3. Here’s Greenberg again: “These sales results add GTA IV to a long list of franchises that have switched over from Playstation to find a new home on Xbox 360 similar to what happened last year with titles like Madden and Guitar Hero.”
Rebuttal: The Xbox 360’s install base was 3 to 1 over the PS3 at the time. Therefore, Sony spokesman Peter Dille saw the 2:1 sales ratio for GTAIV as a sign of brand loyalty. “If I had an installed base advantage of 3-1, I wouldn’t be crowing too much about a 60-40 sales advantage,” he said.
Takeaway: Install base versus brand loyalty. That’s more of a commentary on consumer behavior than an argument over which console is better. Call it a draw.
There are plenty of other examples to be had over the years, but they tend to tread the same old ground. In summary, the PS3 is a built-to-last console with built-in features that would cost money on the Xbox 360. As the leading console, the Xbox 360 lots of games and fancy features that demand some added expense. They both cost roughly the same in the long run. In any case, Nintendo is happily making off to the bank while Microsoft and Sony kill each other.