While sucking up the lifeblood of the internet today, an article decrying the plight of the marvelous beast we've come to worship as the Xbox 360 nabbed my easily distracted attention. As anyone who knows me personally can attest to, I view the 360 as a revolutionary breakthrough in science, second only to Tootsie Rolls, lint brushes, and Viagra. Therefore, it should be of no surprise that I had to read just a little bit more into the propaganda machine that was Yahoo's article.
At first glance, it seemed fair enough. The author, Roger Ehrenberg made it very clear from the beginning that he was reviewing the track record of the Xbox/360 from a financial perspective only. While everyone and their brother seem to have one in their homes, and profess their devotion to the idol that Gates built, it seems that maybe the House of the Rising Sun is the real deciding factor in the pissing contest that is console gaming.
Now I have the greatest respect in the world for Japan, and it's contribution to the hobby that I cling to like a scared child to his mommy's leg. It's just that I still have trouble believing why such a small country packs so much clout when it comes to the proverbial Caeser's Thumb pointing up or down disapprovingly at a game console's future. Yes they have a heck of a lot of people living in a limited amount of space, so do may other areas across the globe. But I digress. The real focus here appears to be on profits (or lack thereof) in Microsoft's Xbox division.
So I skim over the article rather quickly at first, looking for the fuzzy numbers that analysts so adore (see an earlier blog for my thoughts on this), and the following sentence jumps out at me like the Kool Aid man at a librarian's conference…. "after five years and over $21 billion invested all they've got to show for it is $5.4 billion of cumulative operating losses, and Xbox 360 doesn't appear to be the silver bullet to turn things around."
"Whoah Nelly!", I find myself exclaiming aloud. How in the heck can any company consider itself successful when dealing with those kind of numbers? Then I find my hand planted firmly on my forehead, smacking sound included, and I am thrust back into reality that we are talking about Microsoft here. Yes that is a considerable amount of money, but the company in question practically prints the stuff, and uses it to snort the ashes of its competitors. So now I dwell on this for a second, and I think back to when Bill Gates first announced that he was throwing his hat in the race in the first place.
As I recall, he made it quite clear that he was in it for the long haul, and had no plans on backing out of the deal with his tail between his legs like a whipped puppy. He was more than aware of the fact that the Xbox was going up against one weakened industry veteran that still had teeth, and another semi- newbie that was the undisputed king of the console business for the past two generations. He knew that the Xbox was (unlike his other ventures) the underdog, and that it had an uphill battle that was going to lose him a lot of money. Yes he knew all of this, but he also had a hunch that if you build a decent game machine and back it up 110%, it would eventually see it enjoy a following. Would it take over the world and convince the fickle Japanese market that Amercians are more than capable of producing a gaming console that can stand toe to toe with any of it's own offerings? Apparently not completely, but that does little to lesson the impact the Xbox brand has had on gaming.
So now we stand a few years since that November day that the original Xbox was introduced to the delight of gamers, and we see what can only be described as irony at it's finest. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who can't find at least one great thing to say about the Xbox and the 360. It has an impressive library of great games, and it's online infrastructure is unmatched , yet it still fails to secure a decent profit for the house that Gates built. What gives?
Now some guy from Yahoo, and a country full of people might not think the Xbox is worth getting excited over, but I certainly have no regrets buying one for myself. Not sure what it does in foreign lands, but right her in the good old USA, my Xbox 360 No Go Ticky! Thanks Bill, Allard, Fries, and Bach. We still appreciate what you guys made. Now we just have to wait for the East to get with the program.