San Francisco: Microsoft on 24 October began US sales of a scaled-down Xbox 360 model billed by some analysts as a doomed bid to unseat Nintendo’s Wii console as ruler of the casual video game market.
“It is squarely targeted at the Wii,” Directions on Microsoft analyst Matt Rosoff told AFP.
Xbox 360 Arcade comes with five family-oriented video games including PAC-MAN and Uno, and is capable of downloading more games from the Internet.
The Arcade model lacks a hard drive but provides 256 megabytes of memory for storing game play and software, according to Microsoft.
Arcade consoles are priced at $280 while Nintendo’s Wii consoles are priced at 250 dollars and have been selling as fast as they arrive in US stores.
Xbox 360 Arcade won’t knock Wii from the casual gaming throne it has occupied since Nintendo launched the consoles in the United States in November of last year, according to Janco Partners analyst Mike Hickey.
“It is not even remotely close to what the Wii offers the market,” Hickey told AFP.
“The best they can hope for is someone naive goes to a store to buy a Wii and there isn’t one there so they buy an Xbox 360 Arcade.”
Wii consoles with unique motion-sensing controllers are a video game sensation, appealing to families, women, seniors and other “casual gamers” that don’t fit the typically young male “hardcore gamer” demographic.
Hickey described Arcade as a “clumsy” repositioning of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 Core model minus a hard drive.
“They are trying to be opportunistic; appeal to the casual gamer as well,” Hickey said of Microsoft.
“If you are a casual gamer, you buy the Wii. You don’t buy Xbox 360 Arcade. The thing that attracts people to the Wii is the games, the fun, and the buzz.”
Rosoff countered that the Arcade price and the variety of games available for the consoles should be enough for Microsoft to “reach some kind of parity” with Wii in the market.