Why the Xbox 360 was Forced to Launch First
In 2005 the Xbox 360 was launched in North America with a price point of $500 for the premium model and $400 for the "core" model. At this time the Xbox 360 was the only "next generation" console on the market, and it would stay like that for at least a year.
Originally, Sony was to launch their console, the PS3 in early 2006, however the console was delayed into November of 2006.
Weeks after launch many found flaws in the system and wondered why they were their. It seemed like many people forgot about Sony’s original plan of releasing their console a few months after the 360 because they constantly refer to it has Microsoft’s own greed to launch a year before the competition, although the competition was to launch just months after.
Later it was revealed that Microsoft had "skipped" some of the details when it came to the development of the Xbox 360, but why?
1. "Last Generation" Microsoft took second place to Sony, they didn’t want a repeat of that so they decided to get a few months on them. To do this they of course had to skip certain details on their check list of things to do.
2. In mid 2005 NVIDIA, the developer of the Xbox’s GPU ended production. Without a GPU Microsoft was unable to manufacture Xbox’s to sell so they had to go on what stock was already available in stores before the Xbox 360 launched. Microsoft was really forced to launch the Xbox 360 in 2005 because by Christmas time the stock of Original Xbox’s would have been depleted.
3. Microsoft had already lost 4 billion on the original Xbox! Had the Xbox 360 been a repeat there would have been a risk of the entire project being axed by Microsoft. (See: Microsoft Bob, Plays4Sure, Live Search Books, Talisman, Smart Display, etc)
So lets assume the Xbox 360 was delayed by a month or two, what could have been done?
1. A internal HD DVD drive could have been possible, on his blog Andy Pennell revealed HD DVD drives were available from Toshiba some time in October of 2005. Had the drive been integrated and the console delayed by at least a month the most that would happen is launch titles would not take full advantage of HD DVD, the same was seen on the PS3’s launch titles where titles were only filling space with high quality videos. Note: THIS DOES NOT MEAN IT WAS HAPPENING, IT WAS JUST A POSSIBILITY!
2. Better backwards compatibility, if Microsoft was unable to get all those involved with the Xbox chipset’s to agree then some would have been enough, had only Intel’s Xbox CPU gone into the Xbox 360 it would have made it much better for Microsoft developers to emulate titles, in turn we would be getting better performance from backwards compatibility.
Had NVIDIA not stopped production on the chipset’s the original Xbox would have at least sold 26-28 million consoles and still have a steady stream of titles well into 2007, why? The Xbox 360 was facing supply issues, it has been proven generation after generation that when a console if facing supply issue’s it’s predecessor receives a boost in sales.
3. Price point? Many think the price point would increase above $500, but would it really? If Microsoft was indeed making a profit on the Xbox 360 at launch how much would they lose by keeping the launch price at $500 with a HD DVD drive and/or Xbox chipset’s?
If they kept the price at $500 with the HD DVD drive the Xbox 360 would have sold the same amount of consoles, with a high chance of winning the format war and profiting in the long term of course. If a HD DVD drive was included a price drop wouldn’t have been needed so quickly since they are actually able to compete with the PS3 in terms of what comes in the box so to speak.
It is possible that Microsoft had done a majority of this on purpose, many claim Microsoft was actually profiting on the Xbox 360 at launch, so the Xbox 360 could have been their way of making back all the money they lost and then some only to make the successor of the Xbox 360 a better console.
So what are your thoughts on this matter, do you agree with this point? Feel free to give corrections or more "evidence" about this matter, assuming it make’s sense of course.
Also as a side note: I was unable to find the story about the NVIDIA GPU "scandal" so the closest I could find was on the wiki for the Xbox. Rest assured I am still looking for a article referencing the end of production. More PlayStation 3 News...