Is The Xbox 360 Stuck In A Limbo Of Sorts?

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There’s no denying the mark the Xbox 360 has left on our current console generation. Simply put there’s no comparing the 360’s prowess at creating a connected online gaming community. Microsoft knew what they were setting out to do with this generation of Xbox Live, and they did it so well that gamers are still subscribing to the service eight years after the Xbox 360’s introduction. I personally think Microsoft should do away with Xbox Live Gold Subscriptions with their next console. It’s hard for me to see the value in the service now that multiplayer gaming has taken a back seat to more fulfilling single player experiences. However, that’s just one manchild’s opinion. That fact is evidenced by continued support of the Xbox Live Gold Subscription even in the twilight of the 360’s life cycle. With all that said, the Xbox 360 still finds itself in a precarious position.

For the remainder of 2013 there are no major first party retail releases for the 360 (this being said just days after Gears of War: Judgements release). There’s a few great XBLA titles upcoming like State of Decay, Charlie Murder, and Motocross Madness, but the Halo and Gears of War franchises have pretty much wrapped up their time with the Xbox 360. There’s also a growing fear that downloaded titles from the Xbox Live Marketplace won’t be transferable to the Next Xbox, and that may have an adverse effect on LIVE sales down the line. The fact that Xbox Live Gold subscriptions are generally purchased on a yearly basis (unless you want to spend twice that amount on quarterly renewals) may also result in less renewals of the service moving forward. That is, unless your subscription will be transferable to the Next Xbox. Not to mention the sheer fact that the Xbox 360 is the oldest console of this current generation. Units are still moving, but I’d assume we’re seeing a lot of $99 4GB Kinect bundles moving right now rather than their more expensive counterparts.

The move towards Kinect and App support also has more than a few gamers concerned about the 360. We’ve known Microsoft’s intentions about making the Xbox 360 the living rooms “entertainment hub” for a while, but it seems like they’re focusing less on the core gamers that helped make the 360 the undisputed champ of this generation. But wait, Hold that thought, it was recently announced that the Playstation 3 has actually trumped the Xbox 360 in worldwide sales by a million units. This fact lends credence to the argument that the 360 isn’t doing enough to keep it’s core users content.

This situation puts more pressure on Microsoft to deliver at it’s Xbox Event upcoming in April, and it’s subsequent E3 2013 conference. With negative rumors abound in reference to the business model of the next Xbox, it may be causing dissension in the ranks of the Xbox loyal. Rumors about always on DRM , Kinect acting as a necessary piece of the hardware, and the possibility of watermarked discs are all questions that need to be fully addressed by Microsoft if it hopes to have a strong launch of their next generation hardware. It could also hurt the current generations sales of hardware and software if gamers know that none of their purchases will transfer to Microsoft’s next console.

With all that being said the 360 will still enjoy large third party software sales from games like GTA V and CoD later this year (I vehemently disagree that CoD will go directly to next gen, effectively denying the millions in sales a current gen CoD would produce) The point here is that the 360 has never been in second place in the console race, and it’s never been staring down such a heavy third party supported software schedule. This is the limbo area of sorts I was referring to. The rest of the Xbox 360’s life cycle is filled with uncertainty. As an 360 owner I’ve been deterred from renewing my gold subscription when it expires, and this will be the first time since I’ve owned an Xbox 360 that’s happened. It’s hard for me to stay excited, and make game purchases for a system that feels like it’s being neglected. Maybe I’m over-analyzing the situation a bit, but it’s a feeling I can’t help but shake.

Dylan Zellmer

I split time between games journalism and making video games. My love of it’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones), fitness and my family define me otherwise.